The Government must adopt a full rental housing warrant of fitness to prevent more New Zealanders from dying and falling ill from living in cold, damp, mouldy homes, the Green Party said today.
The renewed call comes after a study overseen by Government-owned Landcare Research revealed dangerous levels of toxic mould and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in some south Auckland homes.
“The Government’s own scientists are telling them how dangerous the levels of mould are in these homes, yet National’s refusing to do anything meaningful to make them healthier,” said Green Party acting housing spokesperson Kevin Hague.
“This is yet another reminder that this issue isn’t going away, and that the Government’s new rules around insulation and smoke alarms aren’t nearly enough to fix our unsafe, unhealthy rental homes.
“While National tinkers around the edges, toxic mould is still growing up the walls and on the ceilings of rental properties all around the country.
“No New Zealand child should be forced to live in a house that makes them sick, and the Government needs to establish rules that ensure all rental homes are fit to live in.
“Under a rentals warrant of fitness, which my colleague Metiria Turei has proposed in a member’s bill, all rental homes would be required to meet basic standards for warmth, dryness and safety before they’re allowed to be rented out.
“A bit of insulation and a smoke alarm isn’t enough to stop the 1,600 deaths we have each winter from housing-related illnesses, or the hospitalisation of 40,000 children for the same reasons.
“The entire country was appalled when a coroner found that Emma-Lita Bourne’s death was partly caused by the cold, damp, mouldy conditions in her family’s Housing New Zealand home.
“Unfortunately, there will be more cases like Emma-Lita’s while there is no rentals warrant of fitness in place.
“A rentals warrant of fitness is the bare minimum the Government should be doing to help keep Kiwi renters safe,” said Mr Hague.