Labour versus “slum boarding houses”

Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says that Labour will get tough on slum boarding houses but is vague on details.

The next Labour-led Government will legislate a Warrant of Fitness based on tough minimum standards to clean out slum boarding houses, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

“It’s not acceptable for New Zealanders in the 21st Century to be living in the kind of rat-infested dumps that have been exposed in recent media reports.

“National has had nine years to fix these problems and they’re still denying there’s a housing crisis.

“Too many of our most vulnerable people are being exploited by slum boarding house operators, in dangerous and unsanitary conditions.

“The country’s had enough of Nick Smith’s tinkering and excuses.

“Labour will legislate tough minimum standards and a licensing regime that will weed out rogue operators. We’ll also mandate local government’s enforcement role, to be funded by the licensing system.

“Labour will take the first crucial steps to fix the housing crisis. But, cleaning up slum boarding houses is long overdue and will be an immediate priority,” says Phil Twyford.

This sounds like it may be jumping on a bandwagon from an item on The Nation yesterday – Boarding house horrors:

A housing shortage means more people are turning to boarding houses for accommodation, but as Caitlin McGee discovers, experts say rogue landlords are using the desperation of tenants and a lack of regulation to exploit vulnerable people.

Twyford gave no link to Labour policies on this and there is no mention in Our plan to start fixing the housing crisis.

Twyford is short on some key details, like what will happen to landlords who don’t meet ‘warrant of fitness’ requirements, and what will happen to residents who have to find somewhere else to live.

I have found a press release from Andrew Little:  Healthy homes for all

Next week on May 4, National MPs will get the chance to ensure every rental home in New Zealand is warm and dry – by supporting my Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2).

It is aimed at preventing any more cases like Emma-Lita’s, setting strict guidelines around insulation and heating which all landlords must comply with before they can legally rent out their properties.

It’s about doing what an increasingly callous government has failed to do with its continued protection of slum landlords rather than looking after those in need. And it’s not just our most vulnerable – more middle New Zealand families are renting, locked out of the housing market by soaring prices.

A previous Labour Bill that would have ensured every rental home was warm and dry was rejected by the Government last year. Housing Minister Nick Smith argues he’s doing all that’s needed to improve the “deplorable” state of rentals.

Not so. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill requires rental homes to be retrofitted with ceiling and underfloor insulation.  It comes into effect in July for state houses, but not until 2019 for other rental – read private – housing.

Nick Smith believes his Bill is a pragmatic and efficient option to the problem, and that alternatives are too expensive and will not prove to be beneficial.

But hang on. There is nothing in it about minimum standards of heating. A 2014 Household Income Report shows the majority of kids living in poverty live in private rentals. Those are the families who can least afford to heat their homes.

National has accepted the need to regulate private rental properties by requiring insulation. When temperatures plummet insulation only isn’t going to keep you warm. Why not finish the job and require efficient heating too?

No child, no pensioner, no struggling uni student, no New Zealander, should be living in a hovel. Sadly, some are.

It’s inexcusable in this day and age to be renting out something that is so poorly maintained that it becomes a health hazard.

The Government has the opportunity to do something about that come May 4, by supporting my Bill.

I presume this Member’s bill failed. I also presume this is something like what Twyford was referring to.


Leave a comment


  1. Zedd

     /  18th June 2017

    if the natz get another term, everyone on ‘minimum wage’ will likely end up in ‘slum boarding houses, tents or cars’ mind the gap folks…

    remember if you ‘vote maori party’ or act/uf.. we get 3 more years of this shite ! think about it

    • PDB

       /  18th June 2017

      Probably why National voted to lift 35,000-50,000 children out of poverty and Labour………….didn’t.

      • Zedd

         /  18th June 2017

        only in your tory imagination/fantasy island pantz.. not reality

        • PDB

           /  18th June 2017

          “But the Child Poverty Action Group estimates that National’s changes to the Family Tax Credit will bring between 35,000 and 50,000 children out of poverty. We asked ourselves if we could in good conscience oppose something that would help up to 50,000 kids, and on balance, we decided that we couldn’t.”

          So in your warped view the Child Poverty Action group and the Greens are Tories?

          Keep on spinning……..

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  18th June 2017

    The most frequent problem seems to be tenants who turn perfectly good houses into slums. Maybe Labour can have a policy to prevent that?

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  18th June 2017

      … as evidenced by the 60 damages awards the Tenancy Tribunal makes to landlords every month.

  3. Ray

     /  18th June 2017

    You would think Labour (the people who claim to be for the poor) would already know about this stuff before the media.

    • PDB

       /  18th June 2017

      Classic case of Labour running party attack lines through the MSM first……….

  4. John Schmidt

     /  18th June 2017

    Its easy to see an unintended consequence of this policy with many people forced into homelessness because landlords choose a different use for their properties rather than comply because of the costs imposed.

    • Blazer

       /  19th June 2017

      As houses are for live in…what are the ‘different ‘ uses of which. .you speak?


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