Labour's healthy homes bill shot down

Author
Alexia Russell ,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 Mar 2015, 9:38AM
Phil Twyford (Getty Images)
Phil Twyford (Getty Images)

Labour's healthy homes bill shot down

Author
Alexia Russell ,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 Mar 2015, 9:38AM

Updated 11.51am: Labour's efforts to make sure renters live in healthy homes were stymied last night.

National and Act together made sure Phil Twyford's Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill didn't get past its first reading, although all the other parties voted in favour of it.

Mr Twyford says the government's argument that it's doing a similar trial with state houses is a distraction.

He says more than half the children living in poverty are growing up in private rentals - and we need a policy that will raise standards across that market.

"Only 4% of people live in State Houses, and almost all of those houses are insulated now anyway. So what the government's doing now is irrelevant."

However the Building and Housing Minister says Labour's Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill isn't worth the paper it's written on.

Nick Smith says it would have required every single landlord to insulate their homes immediately, before signing on new tenants.

He says that would've resulted in a huge drop in the supply of housing in places like Auckland and Christchurch.

Anger from students that their chance to make sure they live in guaranteed mould-free homes has come to nothing.

National Student Union President Rory McCourt says for thousands of students living in places such as Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Palmerston North, the bill would have brought hope for winters without colds and flats without mould.

Rory McCourt says a lot of students are paying through the nose for cold, damp flats ... all they want is affordable housing that doesn’t make them sick.

"There's a whole lot of costs associated for the government in terms of looking after sick people. There's costs to universities when students drop out of courses from getting sick, and we think those costs should be borne by the landlords to improve their housing."

"We're disappointed because we thought this was a great opportunity for housing stocks to be updated to minimum standards."

Phil Twyford says the bill would have made sure private rentals - particularly at the bottom end of the market - would have meant improved standards.

"There's no romance really in the freezing cold student flat."

Phil Twyford says he'll keep battling away on the issue.