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Govt accused of double standards over health of state houses

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 10/06/2021
© RNZ / Dom Thomas

The government has been accused of having one rule for private landlords and another for itself when it comes to meeting its own healthy homes standards.

Fewer than one-in-five state homes comply with the government's own health homes standards, which become law for private landlords on 1 July.

In a fiery exchange in Parliament yesterday, Associate Housing Minister Poto Williams confirmed just 11,345 of a total 66,000 state houses currently meet the standards.

The government has until 1 July, 2023 to ensure state houses meet these same standards, but has come under scrutiny over why private landlords had a different deadline.

In Parliament yesterday, ACT's housing spokesperson Brook van Valedon asked Williams why the government can't meet the same standards it expected of private landlords.

"We have a huge portfolio of homes and we need to make sure that the work is done properly," Williams replied.

Williams said upgrading Kainga Ora houses was a "massive task" and the government was wary of putting pressure on building supplies as private landlords race to meet their 1 July deadline.

"We intend to spread the demand for building materials and trades across the time period and allow for sufficient time for private landlords to complete their obligations under the healthy homes standards."

a house in front of a building: State houses in Northcote © Provided by Radio New Zealand State houses in Northcote

Most state houses are in need to upgrading to get them up to health standard. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

NZ Property Investors' Federation executive officer Sharon Cullwick said it was not fair there was one rule for private landlords, and another for the government.

"It's a lot of money for anyone to bring their houses up to healthy homes standards. As long as the deadline remains the same and Kainga Ora don't push out their deadline that would be acceptable.

"However, often the children that end up in hospital are those from lower socio-economic areas and often they would be in Kainga Ora houses so really the government should be getting their houses up to standards as soon as they can."

Williams said there was a huge portfolio of houses to upgrade and the government wanted any improvements needing to be made to be completed right.

However, Tullwick said this was a big ask, given there were more than 50,000 Kainga Ora houses that needed to be upgraded within the next two years.

"If the government's still got a lot of houses to do I don't know if they'll be able to meet their deadline. I do know most landlords are working towards meeting their deadline."


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