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Warm houses key to child health.

Warm houses key to child health.

Children’s Commissioner, Dr Wills, reports today that, over the last 12 years, the biggest increases in child hospitalisations with poverty-related illnesses have been in asthma and bronchiolitis. He has said that living in crowded, cold and damp houses is what matters.

“A Government report has shown that for every $1 spent insulating and heating a home, the Government saves $5 in health spending,” said Andrew King, Executive Officer of the NZ Property Investors’ Federation, the national organisation representing residential property investors. “It is obvious that a focus on insulation and heating will provide the most benefit for these children as well as cost savings for the Government.”

“The NZPIF applauds and agrees with the Commissioner’s desire to improve the living standards of children, but we do not believe a rental property WOF is the best way to achieve this,” said King.

A rental property WOF inspection is estimated to cost between $500 and $700, which will eventually be added to the rental price. This is before any compliance costs which may be incurred are considered. A study of NZPIF members revealed that 83% of their rentals are already insulated and 75% have some form of heating. The most common heating source is a heat pump at 38.6%, with 23.6% having energy efficient wood burners and 19.7% having electric heaters.

“If the Government were to focus on improving the levels of heating and insulation and provide incentives such as a tax rebate for property owners undertaking these improvements, this would be more effective than a “warrant fitness”, said King. “ We would achieve an improvement in the health of children the Children’s Commissioner has identified as currently suffering or being at risk much more quickly and health savings would flow through to the Government.”

These cost savings could then be used to help educate tenants in how to keep their homes warmer and drier. “Even in properties with insulation and heating, if there is overcrowding, curtains closed during the day, permanently closed windows, clothes drying on racks inside and heaters not turned on, then these properties are going to be cold and damp” said Mr King. “The NZPIF believes that helpful pamphlets on how to keep a home warm and dry could be sent out with bond receipts sent to tenants as a cost effective way to help them stay healthy.”


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