Source: Stuff, 27 April 2017
A big gap continues to exist between the state of rental housing
and housing lived in by owners.
A just-released 2015 survey by BRANZ, the Building Research
Association, found owner-occupied houses were twice as
likely to be well maintained than rented ones.
The survey shows nearly a third of rented houses, 32 per
cent, were poorly maintained, and a quarter were well
However, that was an improvement on five years ago, when 44 per
cent were in poor shape.
By contrast, only 14 per cent of owner-occupied houses were
poorly maintained, down from 25 per cent in 2010, with 48
per cent being in a good state (up from 42 per cent).
Only one per cent of all houses was rated by the assessor as
being in an overall "poor" condition, meaning they needed
attention within three months.
The assessor also measured dampness. Nearly a third of
rentals felt damp to the assessor by varying degrees, with 18 per
cent feeling a little damp, 10 per cent damp in places and 3
per cent feeling quite damp or damp throughout.
By contrast, 11 per cent of owner occupied houses
felt damp in some way.
The BRANZ survey visited 560 houses, 149 of which were
rented and the rest privately owned.
Phillipa Howden-Chapman, a professor of public health at Otago
University, said BRANZ had had some difficulty getting into rental
properties. In reality, about half of all Kiwis were
But she said it was a good study which highlighted the need for
more data. One way would be to conduct a random sample during
"There's a discussion going on in government at the moment
about whether in fact it's possible to get a much larger random
survey over the whole country to look at the quality of housing,
and we've been calling for that for some time."
More importantly, BRANZ's survey showed that New Zealand
housing in general was lagging behind the developed
"It's yet another reason why we need a rental warrant of
fitness, because it's a market, the private rental market, ...
where there's information 'assymetry'.
"How does the tenant find out whether there's insulation in the
ceiling or under the floor?
"How does the tenant find out of it's a leaky
building? They don't at the moment.
"There's new legislation coming in [where] the landlord has to
tell them what kind of insulation they've got or not, but they
don't have to do anything about it until 2019."
Her colleague, Professor Michael Baker, a specialist in
infectious disease, said it was known that more people were being
taken in by friends and relatives, providing ripe conditions for
illnesses spread by close contact.
Labour's housing spokesman Phil Twyford said the 1978 insulation
standards were inadequate.
"A bit of Batts in the ceiling is a start but proper standards
including ventilation, heating sources, weathertightness, drainage,
and modern insulation levels are needed to make rentals healthy to
The faster turnover of tenants did have an effect
on maintenance, BRANZ noted.
About three-quarters of the owner-occupied houses had been lived
in their houses for more than 7 years, compared to under 40
per cent of renters.
"Moving house could affect householders' ability and willingness
to undertake repairs and maintenance," the study said.