People on low incomes suffer most from the poor quality our housing. There is conclusive evidence about the damage that cold, damp and mouldy houses do to the health of particularly our children and older people. It is also an issue of justice and human rights that every person have access to housing of a basic standard.
For example, He Kainga Oranga, the Housing and Health Research Programme run by the researchers at the Otago School of Medicine, has shown how asthma in children is reduced when there is good, effective heating in their homes.
Regulation of housing quality in New Zealand is minimal and outdated. One way to ensure that rental housing for people on low incomes meets minimum standards for health and environmental sustainability would be to introduce a Housing Warrant of Fitness. Five local councils trialled a housing WoF tool in 2013 and it showed that two-thirds of rental houses would require more than minor work to meet a minimum standard. Housing NZ is also developing its own housing WoF tool but has not so far made any information about the results public.
Christchurch housing advocates have also produced a useful info resource called Paper Walls on the other legislation and regulations that can be used by tenants to get taken to improve their houses.