Govt rules will affect rental home market

Cliff Seque
Cliff Seque
The devil is in the detail when it comes to the Government's new healthy homes standards, but they will have a flow-on effect for Dunedin's rental market, the head of the Otago Property Investors' Association says.

The standards, announced at the weekend, include having a heater in the living room and extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as appropriate ventilation and draught-stopping.

Insulation must meet the 2008 Building Code, or have a minimum thickness of 120mm.

Association president Cliff Seque said most landlords had already had heatpumps put in for the winter.

''The regulations they're talking about, mechanical ventilation in bathrooms and kitchens, in some cases that is going to be difficult to fit depending on the construction of the building.''

There was ''a wee bit of detail missing'' for instance when it came to draught-stopping.

''The devil is always in the detail,'' Mr Seque said.

Research came out on Monday from the Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Institute with the Housing and Health Research Programme, finding ACC claims and hospitalisation costs from preventable injuries, and hospitalisations due to poor housing conditions, were costing New Zealand's health system more than $145 million each year.

Mr Seque said, in their statement, the health professionals did not break down hospitalisation and ACC costs due to bad housing to owner-occupiers and rental properties.

''The inference is they're actually coming from a rental property. It would be quite interesting to see a breakdown of those figures.''

There would be people who had lived in their homes for ''40-odd years'' and had not upgraded their property and had no ventilation, who were likely to end up in hospital, not just people in rental properties.

When it came to the rental market in Dunedin, he was hearing anecdotally landlords were selling up.

''Over a period of time, with other factors, yes [it is going to make a significant difference to Dunedin's market].''

The other factors included increased rates and insurance, as well as capital gains tax.

When it came to students finding affordable properties to rent, ''affordable'' often differed between landlords and tenants.

An Otago University Students' Association spokeswoman said the association believed the minimum standards could have gone further.

For instance, ideally, the heater requirement would be for a heater that could warm a living room up to at least 21degC rather than 18degC, she said.

The regulations still need to be approved by the Cabinet, and are expected to be made law in mid-2019.

From July 2021, private landlords must ensure that their rental properties comply with the standards within 90 days of any new tenancy. From July 2024 all rental homes must comply with the standards.

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