Who is the real slum landlord?

State Housing

On 1st July, it will be illegal for a rental property not to have an adequate level of insulation… and when I say ‘adequate’, the truth is, the requirements are probably a bit over the top. It is questionable whether it is really necessary to require underfloor insulation in all houses where it is practical. But they are the rules now.

These regulations are tough on private landlords, particularly those outside of the main centres. The opportunities to recover costs and increase rents as a result are not as strong as in the cities. Nowhere near.

In fact, in Whangerei, there are some real problems with rental properties. The issues are not with private landlords though. The issues are with the government.


Housing New Zealand’s been accused of leaving older state houses to rot in Whangarei – while it plans to build new ones.

Hapu at a hui yesterday on a social housing project called for urgent repairs to existing homes.
Housing New Zealand wants to build 37 new homes in the suburb of Maunu – a plan that’s caused about 20 neighbours to sell up and move out.
Elders from manawhenua, Te Uriroiroi and Te Parawhau, supported the project but gave housing staff an earful about its old state houses in Whangerei.

“Get in there and put some money in these houses, get them warm and healthy now,” one person said.

He dared Housing New Zealand staff to walk down the hallway of one particular house saying “jump across the holes in the floor, the only thing that will hold you up is the carpet, the floor’s rotten”.

Others complained of loose and dangerous steps, collapsed laundry tubs and Housing New Zealand repair contractors who did patch-up jobs or failed to show up. end quote.

So let me get this right. Private landlords can be fined $4,000 after 1st July if they don’t have underfloor insulation, but Housing NZ can get away with holes in the floor?

Really? quote.

Housing New Zealand said some homes could not be fixed while they were occupied and that’s one reason the city urgently needed new social housing.

RNZ. end quote.

Yes, clearly there is a need for more social housing, but why can a house not be fixed while it is occupied? Many people go through inconvenient renovations in houses that they own, but we cannot subject tenants to that?

Most tenants in older houses would probably put up with the inconvenience. Some would not … but they would get little sympathy, even from the media, if HNZ were to front up.

Anyway, that is not the point. The point is obvious. Private landlords are hounded to oblivion if their rental properties aren’t damn nigh perfect. The level of insulation required is far above anything required in an owner occupied house. In fact, that is the stupid thing. The required standard in rental properties now is driving landlords to a point where they cannot afford to do it. However, because they can be fined $4,000 if they do not meet the 30 June deadline (and the fine is collected by the tenant, which does huge amounts for landlord/tenant relations) choices are limited.

Landlords cannot afford to take the risk. Some landlords are giving tenants notice as a result, and those tenants have nowhere to go. Most would rather live in a house with no underfloor insulation than under a bridge, but there you have it. That is the law.

In the meantime, HNZ houses have holes in the floor. I wonder how much underfloor insulation these properties have and how long it will last if they do?