59% of NZ Houses Not Maintained Properly | The Jackal

15 May 2011

59% of NZ Houses Not Maintained Properly

A recent BRANZ study has found that 59% of New Zealand houses are not maintained properly. It found many common defects in the houses studied, such as poor under-floor ventilation, inadequate clearance of wall cladding from the ground, missing or corroding sub-floor fasteners and poor maintenance of timber windows. 25% of the houses surveyed were in particular poor condition.

The BRANZ study found the amount of houses in good condition fell by 9% between 2005 and 2010. This is due to a lack of proper investment and a large proportion of landlords putting off house maintenance, which leads to many houses being cold, draughty and unsafe. Ultimately this impacts negatively on tenants health.

The research also found that rented homes are in a poorer condition than owner-occupied homes. The findings have caused some to blame inflation, with many landlords apparently putting off maintenance because of increases in the cost of living. However this is a weak excuse by people who receive large amounts of finances from their rentals, a percentage of which is meant to be set aside for proper maintenance. The correct term to describe such landlords is rack renters. They took advantage of cheap loans to speculate in a largely unregulated housing market which pushed up house prices and rental costs and are now taking advantage of those trapped in the poverty cycle.

The study has been largely ignored by the National Government and comes on the back of another recent report by the OECD that found New Zealand residential rentals are overpriced by 43% on average. This shows that New Zealand has a very large problem in terms of affordable and safe accommodation.

100,000 homes have been insulated under a Green Party initiated scheme with the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority, which has made significant improvements in air quality and energy efficiency. The retrofit has resulted in many landlords increasing the rental cost charged to tenants when their homes are improved. Christchurch was not included in the fourth House Condition Survey (PDF) which studied 573 houses from throughout the country.