Rotorua Weekender: Warmer and safer homes a priority

Friday, July 17, 2015

A warm home is important. That's why the government has recently announced plans to ensure that private sector rental properties are well insulated, and safer with smoke alarms.

Good insulation lets homes retain heat, which in turn saves money through reduced power bills. Making your home warm and dry also has enormous health benefits. Living in an insulated home will mean fewer hospital visits for adults and children who suffer from illnesses made worse by the cold and damp.

To bring more homes up to standard new legislation will be introduced to Parliament requiring landlords to provide underfloor and ceiling insulation in around 180,000 rental properties across the country. In most cases landlords are responsible. They maintain their investments to or above standards set by central and local government. However where they don't it's the tenant that suffers. These new standards will ensure that all rental properties are required to be insulated to a reasonable standard to ensure homes are dryer and warmer.

Safety is also important. It's estimated that as many as 120,000 rental properties don't have smoke alarms. A month or so ago I watched a demonstration by the Ngongotaha Volunteer Fire Brigade on home safety. They showed how quickly a pot left unattended on a stovetop can cause an horrific life threatening fire.

To address this concern from 1 July next year every rental property will be required to have a working smoke alarm. An important move that will save lives.

We are also toughening up enforcement around leaky roofs, excessive dampness and unsafe wiring in rental properties.

Housing NZ is New Zealand's biggest landlord. They too have a role to play. In Rotorua they've made good progress. Over the last six years, every Housing New Zealand home in Rotorua that can be insulated, has been insulated. This is a significant programme of upgrades and worth every dollar invested in these homes.

The Warm Up New Zealand programme has also made a difference. Throughout the country government subsidies have been provided so that 300,000 homes can be insulated in communities most in need. In Rotorua 4,457 homes have been insulated with many also receiving a subsidy for modern heating.

Warmer homes means warmer families. Safer homes means safer families. The changes proposed by the government for rental properties are a practical and cost-effective way to improve the lives of people in our community.