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Healthy Homes Bill Fails

A bill intended to bring in minimum standards for rental housing has not passed its first reading.

The Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill had the purpose of ensuring that every rental home in New Zealand meets minimum standards of heating and insulation.

The bill’s sponsor Phil Twyford said there needed to minimum standards or a warrant of fitness for all rental housing because too many were substandard and left people living in cold, damp homes. The bill would give landlords five years to get rental houses up to a liveable standard.

National MPs spoke against the bill saying standards were improving and the bill would be counterproductive as it would mean landlords taking houses off the market to meet what would be impossible standards in some homes with others beyond the control of the owner. Those who did meet the standards would increase their rents to meet the costs of doing so, they argued.

National MP Paul Foster-Bell described the bill as sloppy with a “Stalinist” approach as a ‘one size fit all’ approach would have unintended consequences. A number of opposition MPs said any problem with the drafting of the bill could be addressed in select committee.

The bill failed to advance on a vote of 60 to 60 with National and ACT opposed.

The House by leave then rose just before 10pm.

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