Tepid Rentals - A Excerpt
Winter in Hamilton is a cold and wet and affair, especially for students, plenty of whom inhabit uninsulated, unheated, damp rental properties.
Ahead of Labour’s rental Warrant of Fitness, we decided to investigate the state of rental properties inhabited by Waikato students – and to see what impact a warrant of fitness might have on students who claim they can’t afford to heat their homes.
As it stands, the rental warrant of fitness is an opt-in scheme which, according to the NZ Rental Warrant of Fitness website, offers “a common sense approach to auditing New Zealand’s rental properties”.
According to Minister for Housing Phil Twyford, rental housing is more likely to be older and of lower quality than the owner-occupied homes.
‘That’s why one of the first things our Government did was to pass the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act to make rental homes warmer and drier. The Government doesn’t hold Waikato-specific information.
‘Landlords must also ensure that their rental properties meet health and safety standards under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). However, not all living arrangements are covered by the Act... To make life better for renters, we will soon be consulting on proposed minimum mandatory standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture and drainage, and draft-stopping’.
‘The Green Party policy for the rental WOF was incorporated into the Government’s Healthy Homes Guarantee Act to make rental homes warmer and drier. Improving the quality of rental homes is likely to have the same benefits and costs for students as it would for the wider renting population’.
The Rental WoF, intended to protect renters from damp and unhealthy homes, has not been implemented nationally but has had a dry run in Wellington where it has been poorly received. RNZ reported, at the beginning of this year, that only two houses had been submitted for a WoF in the first two months of the WoF being available.
Students Have Their Say
We surveyed a bunch of Waikato University students in rentals, to get the inside scoop on the state of their rental homes and find out what they thought could be changed. While we could’ve conducted formal, informative, in-depth interviews –here are the highlights of our somewhat professional-adjacent survey.
- 89% of the students surveyed have heating in their flats.
- 78% have private landlords.
- 70% agreed improvements could be made to their flat, though only one respondent could name something other than “shit carpet”.
- 60% of respondents prefer passive forms of heating such as blankets, clothing, and skin to skin contact with lovers.
What We Learned
While National and Labour have failed to come to an agreement on how best to manage rental property standards, it is evident that both parties see the necessity for some form of guidelines to ensure homes are warm, dry and comfortable.
Though there are concerns with regards to rising rents being passed on to renters, at the moment, it seems many students are okay with their student rentals.
With this in mind, however, there are still many damp, cold flats Waikato university students inhabit and although none of the students we spoke to were on dire straits, warmer, drier homes would certainly be welcome.
~ ALEXANDER NEBESKY
For the full article, you will find it in the 2018 Nexus Magazine (Issue 19) available in their profile below.