The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has recently called for a Warrant of Fitness for rental properties because of rising rents, overcrowding plus poor and deteriorating rentals. The NZ Property Investors’ Association (NZPIF) supports improving rental properties, but believes there are better ways to achieve this than by bringing in a WOF for rentals.
"A WOF is expensive, which will do nothing to help rental prices or overcrowding" says NZPIF Executive Officer Andrew King. "Insulation is one part of providing a healthy home, but heating and ventilation are also critical elements. If tenants can't afford to turn on heating now, how will a WOF help them?"
A recent study showed that rental prices in New Zealand are comparatively lower now than they have been in the past. In 1985, rents amounted to 42% of household income, but in 2014 this has fallen to 32%. A June 2014 study showed that it is $136pw cheaper to rent than to own the average New Zealand home.
University of Otago studies show that fuel poverty and overcrowding are major factors in the health of families in predominantly low income households. A WOF will make these matters worse.
Any proposals to improve the living conditions of low income families need to take into account all of the factors involved. Proposals should aim to have a minimal effect on increasing rental prices and address all the challenges that low income families face.
"Most people would not realise that putting insulation and energy efficient heating into a rental property is not tax deductible" says King. ""NZ First have included this in their housing policy to help low income families and other parties have indicated their support."
The NZPIF believes that low income families need help with their power bills. All the insulation in the world won't help tenants if the heating isn't turned on. Often they will prioritise other costs above the cost of turning on their heating.
"If we are serious about helping kids living in cold, damp homes then we have to start focusing on the real issues completely and not on a simplistic, expensive and widespread WOF for rental properties" says King.