The Healthy Homes Commitment

The Renters United Healthy Homes Commitment (PDF, 129kb) affirms everyone’s right to a healthy home by:

  • Providing councils with the tools to ensure homes in their are keeping their communities healthy
  • Providing councils with data that empowers them to provide informed and targeted support to the areas that need it the most

Our homes aren’t getting much healthier. While awareness of the Healthy Homes Standards amongst landlords and renters and landlords has grown1, the most recent Healthy Homes Topline Report shows the number of renters with issues related to dampness, mould and heating has remained the same.2

Private rental housing continues to be in poorer condition than either social housing, or houses that are owner occupied. Several national surveys and studies have shown consistent results, regardless of the measurement tool used.3

Unhealthy homes make our communities sick. “New Zealand research has shown how low indoor temperatures and mould impair children’s lung function, that almost 28,000 hospitalisations per year are for diseases potentially attributable to inadequate housing, that exposure to poor housing conditions is associated with increased risk of rheumatic fever, and that hazards and lack of safety features in the home increase the risk of injury.”4

Intervention makes a difference. In almost all cases investigated under the Healthy Homes Initiative households received an intervention that improved the house’s condition5 and these interventions improved people’s health.6

Meaningful enforcement is the missing piece of the puzzle. A recent investigation by Renters United found only 9/50 applications to the tribunal where a tenant claimed a breach of the Healthy Homes standards were successful7. Local Councils are empowered under the Health Act to ensure homes in their community are healthy. It’s time they used that power.

Get involved!

1. Check that you and your fellow renters are enrolled to vote at the correct address!

If you’re renting that makes you a ratepayer! In fact you’re eligible to enrol and vote in local body elections if you are 18 years or older, a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, and you’ve lived in New Zealand continuously for 12 months or more at some time in your life. Make sure you can have your say at enrol.nz

2. Email your local candidates to see if they support the Renters United Healthy Homes Commitment.

If you know who the local candidates are in your area then send them a message, asking if they support the Renters United Healthy Homes Commitment. Here’s some text to get you started:

Kia ora!

I just read about the Renters United Healthy Homes Commitment and I wanted to know if you supported it?

The Healthy Homes Commitment is a promise that local councils will take a proactive approach to ensuring renters are living in warm, dry, and safe homes.

You can read more about the commitment and their information for candidates here:
https://rentersunited.org.nz/lbe22/the-healthy-homes-commitment

3. Stay updated through the 2022 local body elections

Nationally we need help with:

  • Social Media & Communications, like creating copy, scheduling posts on social media, and engaging with people online
  • Access to Democracy. We need people to be attending meet the candidate events and asking candidates if they support better rights for renters in their community!
  • If you want to get involved in any of these email lbe22@rentersunited.org.nz

In Tāmaki Makaurau and Pōneke we need help with:

  • Local Events, we need people to help organise and run a series of events. They could be anywhere from Q&As to candidate roasts, where renters take back the power in their local community discussions
  • Scorecards. Each election we make scorecards for candidates to help everyone understand who’s going to make renting easier, and who’s going to make it harder!
  • If you want to get involved in either of these email lbe22@rentersunited.org.nz

We’ve prepared a full policy document (PDF, 129kb) that outlines how the commitment works, what legislation it builds upon, and some messaging that can be used to communicate the issue to constituents. Have questions? You can contact lbe22@rentersunited.org.nz.

Ready to sign?

The renters united logo next to stick people standing in front of houses

Authorised by Geordie Rogers, 6/2 Ohiro Road, Aro Valley, Wellington


Footnotes

  1. Healthy Homes Act Topline Report, Kantar Public, Colmar Brunton, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, https://bit.ly/HH-Topline-Report,  p.8
  2. Ibid p.27
  3. Housing Warrant of Fitness Assessment Manual, Version 3.0, New Zealand Green Council, University of Otago, https://bit.ly/WOF-Manual-v3, p.3
  4. What can we learn from Healthy Housing Initiatives? New Evidence from the Wellington Well Homes scheme, Elinor Chisholm, Nevil Pierse, Cheryl Davies, Philippa Howden-Chapman, https://bit.ly/HHI-Evidence
  5. Ibid
  6. Healthy Homes Initiative, Ministry of Health – Manatū Hauora, https://bit.ly/HHI-MinistryofHealth
  7. Recent HH Tribunal Rulings, Renters United, https://bit.ly/HHS-50