The Greens have gone "one up" on their potential Labour
coalition partner with a proposal to require and fund a full
warrant of fitness test for all of the country's 453,000 rental
Announcing another of the Greens' social policy priorities
today, co-leader Metiria Turei said the Greens would advocate
paying local councils $8 million a year for inspectors to
check every rental property at least every three years, and
more often for homes that do not come up to standard.
Homes would be checked for a full warrant of fitness
including walls and ceilings being clear of mould, decent
ventilation, a functional toilet, properly connected drains,
safe electrical wiring, floor and ceiling insulation, proper
heaters, and no cracks or holes in the building fabric.
The Greens would also reinstate a 33 per cent subsidy for
insulation of any uninsulated home at a cost of $109 million
a year - trebling the National Government's subsidy of $100
million over three years, which was restricted last year to
cover only homes where the residents have community services
By contrast, the Labour Party's "healthy homes guarantee"
proposes to simply change the law to require all landlords to
declare in tenancy agreements that their properties meet the
minimum standards of insulation and efficient heating.
"It is now time to require all rental properties to be
brought up to a minimum standard through a regulatory rule,
rather than through future taxpayer subsidy," Labour said.
Ms Turei said regulation by itself would not work.
"The Green Party's warrant of fitness standard is more
comprehensive - not only insulation and heating, but also hot
and cold running water and [other basic standards]. These
things are not actually required in the law and they should
be," she said.
"The home insulation scheme has been enormously popular and
over-subscribed, because the cost is quite high, and part of
the reason for that is a failure of successive governments to
make insulation part of the building code in the early years,
or providing adequate support to help families insulate their
"It's simply not responsible to now claim that the community
is on their own. Actually we do have an obligation as a
Government to make sure the housing stock is of high
The Greens policy, unveiled today at the Salvation Army's
Manukau branch, also includes a voluntary star rating scheme
"to reward exceptionally good properties".
"Modelled on the Dunedin Student Tenancy Accommodation Rating
Scheme (STARS) pilot, this would see landlords get one to
five stars for things such as having solar panels, outside
storage facilities (for example for bicycles) and wall
insulation," the party says.
The Greens would change tenancy laws to give tenants a right
of renewal of all tenancies unless tenants are evicted for
grounds allowed in the law such as damage to the property or
non-payment of rent.
Rent increases would be limited to no more than once a year
and tenancy agreements would have to include a formula for
calculating future rent increases.
"In Government, the Green Party will consult with the sector
on the details of the formula, which is likely to allow for
rent increases in the case of mortgage rate increases,
significant improvements made to the house in question, and
overall rent increases in the relevant region," the party
The party would end the National Government's decision to
make all social housing tenancies reviewable, and instead
would allow all social housing tenants to buy their homes
progressively through a "progressive ownership" rent-to-buy
scheme without having to pay either a deposit or a mortgage.
- By Simon Collins of the New Zealand Herald