Government must rewrite rental housing bill to save lives

The Government must rewrite and strengthen its Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill so that it will actually keep Kiwi children warm, safe and dry in the homes they live in, the Green Party said today.

Yesterday, Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills slammed the Bill as a “shameful” broken promise that “will do little to for children living in cold, damp, mouldy houses”.

“The aim of the Bill should be to guarantee every New Zealand child a home that will keep them warm, safe and dry. The reality is, this Bill probably won’t save one life,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“This Bill shows the Government is more interested in keeping costs down for property investors than keeping children safe.

“Kiwi kids are being diagnosed with rheumatic fever, asthma and severe respiratory illnesses, all because of the cold, damp, mouldy houses they live in, and the Government is saying, ‘Here’s a smoke alarm, here’s a little bit of insulation… that’ll fix it.’

“This Bill won’t fix a thing. This Bill isn’t going to make any meaningful difference to the thousands of Kiwi kids who are living in cold, damp, draughty rental homes.

“If the Government really wanted to make a difference, it would dramatically rewrite the Bill so it has enforceable minimum standards for all rental homes in our country, so that no-one has to live in a cold, damp, mouldy house that puts their life at risk.

“I have a Member’s Bill it could use as the basis of the rewrite – my Residential Tenancies (Warm, Safe and Secure Rentals) Amendment Bill would provide a fully enforceable rental housing warrant of fitness, that will keep Kiwi renters warm, safe and dry.

“There is still time to change the Bill. The Government can listen to what the experts, like Dr Wills, are saying and include an enforceable rental housing warrant of fitness in the Bill.

“The Government has a real opportunity here to show that they care about the health of the million-plus Kiwis who live in rental housing – I’d like to see them take that opportunity,” said Mrs Turei. 

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