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Renters less satisfied with their housing

26 June 2019

One in three New Zealand households rent their homes and are less likely to be satisfied with their housing compared to home owners, Stats NZ said today.

The General Social Survey 2018 asked New Zealanders a range of questions about their homes. Along with questions on a broad range of wellbeing measures, Kiwis were asked about their satisfaction with their housing, how affordable it was, and if they faced issues such as dampness and mould.

“Our latest data showed nine out of 10 New Zealanders were satisfied with their housing, reporting that it was very suitable (44.3 percent) or suitable (45.0 percent),” senior analyst Dr Rosemary Goodyear said.

“However, only a third of renters (31.8 percent) thought their house was very suitable, compared to half of home owners (50.9 percent).”

Renters reported more housing problems

Renters fared worse for all aspects of housing quality measured, reporting higher rates of cold, mould, dampness, and poorly maintained dwellings.

“It’s likely that the presence of housing problems affected housing satisfaction, as we found people who were not satisfied with their housing were more likely to report housing problems,” Dr Goodyear said.

Renters less likely to heat their homes

Around 1 in 5 renters (19 percent) said they never or hardly ever heated their living room, compared to just 6 percent of owners. When people said they did not heat or only heated their living room infrequently, renters were also more likely to say that it was because of the cost (40.5 percent compared with 23.5 percent of owner-occupiers).

For both renters and owners, those in the upper North Island were more likely to never heat their living room, particularly in Auckland (9.1 percent) and Northland (6.6 percent). In contrast, over 70 percent of people in Otago, Southland, and Canterbury said they heated their living room every night in winter.

Heat pumps the most common form of heating in the living room

Heat pumps were the most common form of heating among both owners (40.4 percent) and renters (34.0 percent). A third of home owners (33.1 percent) used an enclosed wood burner, compared with a quarter of renters (25.4 percent), while renters were about three times more likely to use an electric heater for warmth (28.0 percent) than owners (9.5 percent).

Only 2.1 percent of owners used a portable gas heater, while 4.5 percent of renters did. The Ministry of Health warns against the use of unflued gas heaters as they produce nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and water vapour, all of which can affect health both directly and indirectly.

Renters more likely to report their house was unaffordable

We asked people to rate their housing affordability on a scale of 0 (very unaffordable) to 10 (very affordable). They were asked to include all housing costs such as rates, insurance, and utility bills as well as rent or mortgage payments.

“A tenth of New Zealanders rated their housing as unaffordable (0-3). This was mainly people who rented their home (14.2 percent), compared to owners (8.0 percent),” said Dr Goodyear.

“Auckland was by far the most unaffordable region, with both renters and owners in Auckland more likely to report their housing costs as unaffordable (with 13.2 percent rating it as 0-3).”

Renters were also more likely to report that they did not have enough money for everyday needs (16.9 percent compared to 6.4 percent of owner occupiers).

Renters more mobile

Renters were also more mobile, with close to a third having lived at their house for less than one year. In the five years prior to the survey, renters had moved on average 2.6 times, compared with 1.9 times for current owners. The greater mobility of renters occurred regardless of age. Renters aged 65 or older were around three times more likely to have been at their home for less than a year (9.2 percent), compared to those who owned their own home (3.1 percent).

Note: ‘Renters’ in these statistics includes the small proportion of New Zealanders who both don’t own their house and don’t pay rent, for example people whose housing is provided rent-free through an employer or family member.

The Government Statistician authorises all statistics and data we publish.

For more information about these statistics:
• Visit Wellbeing statistics: 2018
• See Slight fall in overall life satisfaction, but most Kiwis still satisfied
• See New sexual identity wellbeing data reflects diversity of New Zealanders
• See CSV files for download


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