'Worst flat' rapt with $5000 of free insulation

Flatmates in Dunedin's ''worst flat'', (from left) Steven Walker (19), Jeremy Sprut (19), Madi Mcewen (20) and William Marti (18) get cosy yesterday while watching the Football World Cup final. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Flatmates in Dunedin's ''worst flat'', (from left) Steven Walker (19), Jeremy Sprut (19), Madi Mcewen (20) and William Marti (18) get cosy yesterday while watching the Football World Cup final. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

Life is about to get a bit cosier for the ''winners'' of this year's worst flat award.

The tenants of the Clyde St, Dunedin, flat - which picked up the Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) worst landlord award this year - successfully applied for $5000 worth of free insulation, which was installed yesterday.

Tenant Jeremy Sprut said the flatmates were ''thrilled'' to receive free insulation through the Government's Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme.

At the moment, the flat was pretty freezing, especially before the heat pump was turned on.

''Before you turn it on, it's definitely a see-your-breath situation,'' he said.

Outside the lounge, it was a case of using ''layers'' to keep warm.

The flatmates were thankful for the help OUSA gave them in applying for the insulation.

OUSA student advocate Philippa Keaney said their success showed that students in cold flats could do something to improve their situation.

She encouraged others students to get in touch with OUSA if they wanted help applying for government assistance to get insulation installed.


David Clark - judge

Calm down about David Clark, pretty sure he's one of the judges - he certainly was last year 

MP David Clark invited?

FeetFirst: The video doesn't say that David Clark was invited, it says "The students welcomed OUSA staff and campaigning MPs into their flat" - so there is nothing to say how he got there. We can presume that the CH39 cameraman at least tolerated his presence. It looks like Clare Curren is there also. Whether or not he was invited, the presence of Labour MPs seems inappropriate and is a distraction from the story about the OUSA and the Government helping cold students.

As I said, the Greens can take some credit for working with National to enable the earlier scheme, "Heat Smart" (WUNZ-HS) to happen, and for trying, but failing, to convince the old Labour Government to implement a similar scheme. Labour hasn't made any claims that they provided political support for the current "Healthy Homes" program nor for the old "Heat Smart" program and I can't see any sign that they had any involvement, even though this is the type of thing they would love to take the credit for doing. 

The $100 million spent on "Healthy Homes" by the current government might sound impressive, but while the recipients of this money tell researchers that they are more healthy, the hard evidence of hospital visits shows that the benefits are minimal or none. The money could be better spent on other things. 

What's an invited politician to do?

Jimmy Jones: I watched the video to see what your aggressive missive was aimed at and it was clearly stated that invited politicians were present. So what is inappropriate about turning up, as the local MP, to an event he is invited to? That is actually part of the job description. The local National list MP is rarely seen in Dunedin as it is, but then he's only in on list, so there's the excuse.
WUNZ:HH is actually the latest iteration of a policy initiated under Labour, by the Greens, and continued under National with Greens pushing it. Voting against a budget is very different to refusing support for WUNZ: HH - and all the evidence points directly to the contrary.
You think WUNZ:HH produces minimal benefits and costs way too much? A hefty range of solid research proves the exact opposite: that $1 spent on insulation saves $4 health dollars. However apparently 'inefficient' it appears, it actually saves the taxpayer money. David Clark, as our local elected MP, certainly should attend events he is invited to, and should take an interest, as he may potentially be in government in September.
And how on earth can a politician turning up for an occasion he was invited to be considering taking credit for a policy that someone else initiated, when it was carried out by his own party after being initiated by the Greens? A little bit of calm please.



JimmyJones: Just because they voted against the budget as a whole doesn't mean they didn't support individual projects, just like people voted for National despite most being against asset sales. It is possible to feel one way about a package overall but feel the opposite about components.

Ever buy a bag of jellybeans but don't like the black ones? Or a box of chocolates etc? Same goes for political parties and policies.

Which makes a joke of National's line "we have a mandate" for every policy. They have a mandate to govern overall, but that doesn't apply to each individual policy. In fact the referrendum on asset sales proved as much. 


FeetFirst: You haven't justified David Clark's apparently inappropriate TV appearance. The reason for him being associated with the OUSA's efforts and the National Government's Warm Up New Zealand Healthy Homes (WUNZ-HH) program remains a mystery. I put it down to a desperate attempt to gain public exposure.

You say that WUNZ-HH had support from National, Greens and Labour, but I can see no evidence of this: in fact Labour and Greens voted against the $100 million funding for this by voting against the budget.

The Greens did provide support for the earlier program WUNZ-HS by completing a MOU with National, but Labour is nowhere to be seen with the WUNZ-HS or the WUNZ-HH. I think that these schemes produce minimal benefits and cost way too much, however, National deserves the credit for the Healthy Homes and David Clark has no business trying to take credit for other peoples work, or whatever he was trying to do.

Not a qiuck way to get rich

Im a landlord - how many others posting here are? There are a few bad landlords out there, but
most of the landlords I know make sure that the houses they rent out are in good livable condition. Being a landlord is not the get rich quick business that some people seem to think it is. In fact its the opposite - an expensive business to be in, with high risks and overheads if you get it wrong and buy the wrong house. It's a long slow process that takes lot of the landlords time up.

My houses are all warm and dry and well maintained. I only rent to 3rd year or final year students or families. None of my houses are within party central. I keep my rentals down as low as I can to make sure I can get enough interest to pick who I want to rent my homes.

1. Most good landlords don’t make any profit off, of their houses/flat while renting them out due to insurance, bank loans, upkeep/maintenance, advertising, accounting fees etc. Any
profit comes from capital gain when sold. One of the houses I rent out is in the north end outside of party central. Its a 4 bedroom + sleep out rented to 3rd year students, its rented out for $420 per week, or $84 per bedroom. Bank repayment is $352 per week, rates are $37.50 per week, insurance is $12.50 per week and maintenance is around $25 per week. Incoming is $420 each week and outgoings each week are $427 each week - I am paying $7 out of my pocket to have students live in my house. That's a loss of $336 per year.

2. Landlords renting to students have far higher maintenance costs then those who don’t rent to students. Most 1st and 2nd year students do $1000 worth of damage each year. 

3. Landlords renting to students pay much higher rates for their landlord insurance then those who don’t rent to students. As students do damage on a weekly basis, sometimes by the end of the year a landlord can pay out any where from $2000 to $10,000 to repair the damage done. Sometimes this can be recovered, and other times the landlord has to eat the whole loss them self. 

Often there is no money left over to spend on making their flats/houses warm. Just fixing what has been broken can take up any spare money a landlord has. For me the answer to me providing warm dry homes is simple - I only buy houses that that are in good condition and have already had insulation installed. But for this I have to pay a bit more to buy the house then someone who buys an old house to rent out. However, making sure my hoses are looked after while I rent them out gives me a much better chance of making money when i sell them. So for me it's money
well spent.


Making politics out of fuel poverty?

Obviously it's election year, where commentators of all flavours want to criticise or promote their own faction. What should be noted about the politicisation of the Warm Up NZ: Healthy Homes scheme is that it bears the signature of the Greens through Labour and National governments. Personalising WUNZ:HH as a "John Key" initiative is a little rich when it had wide main party support from all three. The one thing you could attribute, I suppose, to our PM is that WUNZ:HH is now on its last legs, despite the massive job yet to do.

So lets see more politicians get behind Warm Up NZ and work to not only keep it going, but expand it to ensure the outcome of warm and cosy homes for all and reduced hospital admissions, waiting lists and reduced days off school and work.

Labour MP Gatecrasher

In the Dunedin TV (CH39) video (above) we can see what appears to be an uninvited guest - Labour MP David Clark - presumably attracted by the chance to be on TV. He showed no sign of shame or embarrassment with the success of John Key's Warm Up New Zealand programme and the failure of the old Labour government to achieve something similar. It's bizarre behavior: perhaps he was trying to take credit for Warm Up NZ, or perhaps he is so impressed with the Government that he is helping to promote their initiatives as a special gift to John Key as we approach the election.

NZ needs nannies

This is just the thing - most of Dunedin landlords need a nanny to come in, tell them off like a little child, and make them change their behaviour.... because if not, things will just continue as they are.

Unfortunately, for a lot of people this issue is just something they read about in the paper - while for others it's something lived day in, day out. Most landlords are too interested in penny-pinching and laughing all their way to retirement to be bothered with an annoying task like bringing a house up to WHO standards. It's time NZ, and particuarly Dunedin, faced up to the stark generational inequality in living standards and did something about it.

The problem

Ham: The problem is most of these flats are leased around Christmas and by people from out of town. By the time you get to winter, when you find out what appeared to be a warm house is really a fridge, it's too late. After a year or two you soon learn, but that doesn't help the first timers.

This is the sort of thing the WOF scheme (if it is ever viable and works properly) is designed to expose.

I do however agree a landlord shouldn't be rewarded for being a bad landlord.


Changing our energy culture

Good story. It is a delicate question why landlords, who make money from renting out property, should receive any subsidy from the public purse or philanthropic funds, and one that doesn't have an easy answer. Yes, the property is improved, despite what may be poor landlord practice. And also yes, the life of residents within the property will also be improved, reducing days suffering from colds, asthma and other cold related health problems.

To improve Dunedin's housing stock and have a city of "cosy homes" we're going to have to deal with virtually every house anyway - this is the only way we're going to change the energy culture and make owning, living in or renting out a cold unhealthy home socially unacceptable.


Here we go. More nannying. 

If you dont want a cold flat, dont sign the lease for one. Landlord must be happy right now, they can say the flat is now insulated and charge more next year for it.  All without having to do a thing. 

Why should the 'worst' landlord be rewarded?