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New healthy homes standards are just the beginning

“We applaud the government’s announcement of the new healthy homes standards, but landlords, and industry commentators who are complaining about how onerous the new healthy homes standards are don’t seem to realise they have got off lightly”, says Sustainability Trust Chief Executive Phil Squire. “At a time when the housing crisis is in the spotlight, the government is treading a middle line to keep tenants and landlords engaged. While the majority of homes will be warmer and drier, we are concerned that the new standards don’t go far enough and many lower-income households will continue to struggle to keep their home warm and dry.”

According to the Ministry of Heath around 6,000 people are hospitalised due to housing related health issues. These are just the people who are hospitalised, not the people who have to take time off sick at home or to look after another person. Last year, Massey University released a report that outlined the forty-five per cent increase in asthma related hospitalisations in under 15 year olds since 2002.

The new standards cover insulation, heating, ventilation, draughts, drainage and moisture ingress. However, Sustainability Trust estimates that around 100,000 rentals will be exempt from installing insulation due to the cost of accessing the ceiling or underfloor. Coupled with efficient heating only being required in the living area, the Trust is concerned that households will continue to face high power bills if they are to heat kids’ bedrooms to a healthy temperature.

“On the bright side, and perhaps it’s no coincidence, the recently released Electricity Price Review options paper makes some strong recommendations on pathways to eliminate household fuel poverty including financial support for upgrading homes and supporting energy bills,” says Squire. We look forward to working with Government on the Review recommendations and the new standards to ensure that the intent of Healthy Homes Guarantee Act does just that – guarantee a healthy home for all New Zealanders”

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