Questions to Govt reveal urgent need for rental WOF and register

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Green Party is renewing its calls for a Warrant of Fitness for rental homes and a register of landlords and property managers after revelations the Government doesn’t track compliance with the Healthy Homes Standards.

Renters spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick said, “Aotearoa New Zealand needs to get the fundamentals in place for a functional, fair and effective rental system, recognising our country’s commitment to the UN Human Right to Adequate Housing.

“My questions to the Minister show the Government and its agencies do not know nor collect data on how many rentals are Healthy Homes compliant. They don’t know how many companies hold themselves out as verifying Healthy Homes Standards, nor the reliability of those services because there is no standard or licensing those companies are required to meet. They don’t know how many landlords there are, nor how many properties each of those landlords own. They don’t know how many property managers there are and current proposals to regulate the industry, while important, are just one tiny part of this unwieldy and unfit system.

“You’re not accountable when you’re not counting, so at the very least we need to get the basics right. That means registering rental properties and their status in compliance with Healthy Homes standards in the form of a WOF, as well as landlords and property managers, to ensure things are up to scratch and everyone’s protected and aware of their rights and responsibilities if anything goes wrong, avoiding the messy clean up and collateral damage after things have gone wrong.

“MBIE bond lodgement data suggests there’s maybe around 120,000 landlords. IRD data suggests it might be closer to 350,000 landlords. The Government is trying to figure out if there’s 2,000 or 7,000 property managers. Meanwhile, we know for a fact that the 1.4 million New Zealanders who rent as counted by Statistics New Zealand are being systematically let down.

“It’s still unclear how Tenancy Compliance proactively investigates Healthy Homes Standards breaches, so it’d be great if those processes could be made transparent. Regardless, 1,000 odd proactive interventions in the scheme of 527,000 rental properties is a 0.002% hit rate.

“Based on the horror stories we’ve all heard and the scale of problems renters report, I’d suggest this is just touching the sides of the problems out there… But therein lies the issue once again. Because the Government doesn’t collect this data, no one actually knows.”

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