“Our members, like many other people, would like to make sure that children such as Emma-Lita, who died in August last year, do not suffer as a result of their living conditions” said Andrew King, Executive Officer of the NZ Property Investors’ Federation (NZPIF)
“It is an extremely sad case and Coroner Brandt Shortland has said that the Housing New Zealand house in Otara could not be ruled out as a contributing factor in her illness and subsequent death.”
The Coroner’s comments have led to a call for all rental homes to have a warrant of fitness (WOF).
Unfortunately a WOF would not have helped Emma-Lita, although it is understandable that people want to see something done.
Housing New Zealand has insulated all of their properties where practicable. It has also confirmed that they installed ventilation in every room of Emma's house and provided a heater.
The Coroner acknowledged that Housing New Zealand attempted to assist the family with a heater, but unfortunately the high electricity costs made it impossible for the family to use this within their budget.
Even insulated homes need heating and ventilation otherwise they are likely to remain cold and damp.
“The NZPIF believes that the families of children with health issues potentially caused by living in a cold damp house should be provided with electricity vouchers during the winter months to assist them heating their homes” said King.
In addition, Government should focus on insulation and heating rather than responding to calls for a WOF, which checks items such as the size of kitchen benches and whether the property has a toilet and hot and cold water.
Government saves $5 in health spending for every $1 spent on insulation and heating, so this is an excellent return for tax payers’ money. Making insulation and energy efficient heating tax deductible would lead to warmer rentals without leading to significantly higher rental prices. Having to meet higher rent payments would make it even harder for families to pay for heating costs.