'Half the population is living in rentals that are making them sick' - calls for tighter housing regulations

It may be the way of the future, but rental costs have rocketed compared to the rate of the average wage, and there are calls for tougher protections for tenants.

Rick Zwaan from ActionStation has spent the past few months gathering renters' stories and reveals a disturbing picture of the sector in New Zealand.

"There are some pretty heart-breaking stories in there with people living in cold, damp flats and homes, unable to afford rent and keep the heaters on," Mr Zwaan told the Breakfast programme this morning.

ActionStation teamed up with Renters United to produce the People's Review of Renting survey which documents the stories of 200 people in rentals.

Mr Zwaan says the survey revealed that most renters say their homes are affecting their health and the health of their children.

"Half the population is living in rentals that are making them sick and they can't afford to pay rent and keep the heaters on.

"[Renting is] massively expensive. And what we see is people getting locked into homes that are unhealthy and making them sick and they can't afford to leave."

Mr Zwaan says the government has created some incentives to make sure landlords insulate their homes but believes this doesn't go far enough.

"What we've seen is successive governments taking a hands-off approach to the housing issue and what we need now is some stronger regulations there so people can live in a warm dry safe home."

Mr Zwaan says the survey showed renters would like to see a housing warrant of fitness brought in which would guarantee homes have heaters, insulation and ventilation.

They would also like to see landlords held to those regulations.

Mr Zwaan says he would like to see the tenures being secured so tenants can stay in their homes longer with greater protections placed around this.

Rick Zwaan from ActionStation says a recent survey reveals how poor quality homes are affecting the health of renters. Source: 1 NEWS



NZ energy use unsustainable in switch to renewables

A four year study on energy usage in New Zealand households warns current trends will not be sustainable when the country makes the complete switch to renewable energy.

The NZ Green Grid project investigated the energy usage of 45 North Island properties, and isolated the energy use down to what appliances were using the electricity.

The study found increased heatpump use over winter and the increase use of electric vehicles could use more energy than what is presently possible from renewable sources.

It also found the average house had between two and three appliances for refrigeration.

Energy Research Centre co-director Michael Jack said the infrastructure and market structures needed to change.

"Wind is variable. It's only generating when the wind blows.

"Solar is generating during the middle of the day, when there's less demand for it.

"What you need to do is either shift your demand to those time when the renewables are being produced or somehow store those renewables for use at later times," he said.

Dr Jack said one possible option was using heatpumps that were set on a thermostat, where temperatures could be lowered during certain hours of the day.

He said if changes were not made, the switch to completely renewable energy would be a costly.

rnz.co.nz

A four year study on energy usage in New Zealand households warns current trends will not be sustainable when the country makes the complete switch to renewable energy. Source: rnz.co.nz


Only nine resource consents lodged since council botch-up

The Auckland Council has received just nine new resource consent applications, after it revealed that it bungled more than 400 consents for home alterations.

The council admitted a fortnight ago that it misinterpreted its own rules, and property owners in suburbs like Grey Lynn and Ponsonby where special character rules apply would need new consents.

The problem affected consents granted between December 2016 and December last year.

The council said it has now contacted all potentially affected property owners.

It would now be reviewing each consent to work out whether or not the property was affected by the botch-up.

It was prioritising those consents that have also been granted building consent. It was estimated there were about 150 properties in this position.

There were five properties where building work had already started.

So far the council has received nine new resource consent applications and granted two.

It was urging everyone who it had contacted to get in touch to let the council know where they were at in implementing their consents.

The council has said it would cover the cost of the new resource consent applications.

It would also look at compensation or mediation for those more adversely affected.

The problem arose when the Environment Court disagreed with how the council was applying the extra rules that applied in special character areas.

It said those rules should not take precedence over the underlying zoning rules and both should apply when resource consent applications were considered.

Some homeowners may have to make changes to their plans to comply with the new interpretation of the rules, the council said.

The council said it would look at making changes to the Unitary Plan to clarify the rules, but that process could take at least a year.

rnz.co.nz

"New residential land under development in Auckland, New Zealand. Shortages of housing in the city means new subdivisions are quickly filled. Shortage of housing is also leading to high house prices. This is Kensington Park north of Auckland. Modern infill compact housing."
Houses in Auckland (file picture). Source: istock.com

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Armed police at the scene of a fight in Lower Hutt where a man was killed

Armed police are at the scene where a man was killed in a fight in Lower Hutt last night.

The 29-year-old victim was attacked near the intersection of High Street and Burcham Street, in Taitā, at around 7.45pm.

The man's body will be removed from the scene for a post-mortem examination this afternoon while a scene examination on High Street continues.

Detective Senior Sergeant Tim Leitch said one man, an associate of the victim, was charged with assault and has since been released on bail.

Police are still seeking a second man, who was seen leaving the area in a silver station wagon, in relation to the incident.

Police have since seized the vehicle for testing after is was spotted nearby on Pringle Street.

It's believed items of interest may have been discarded by the occupants of the vehicle, and police are asking residents in the surrounding areas of Burcham Street, Macky Street, Pringle Street and Churton Crescent to search surrounding areas for anything which may be relevant to the investigation.

The man has been described as being of Māori descent with a solid build, dark curly hair and facial tattoos.

He was last seen wearing a black top and pants, and may have received a facial injury in the incident. 

Anyone who witnessed the incident or saw either the silver station wagon or any suspicious activity shortly after 7.45 pm has been urged to contact police.

Armed police are at the scene where a man was killed in a fight in Lower Hutt last night with police hoping to remove the body from the scene this afternoon. Source: 1 NEWS


Two seriously injured after car crashes into fence in Napier

Two people have been seriously injured after a car crashed into a fence in Napier today.

Two fire engines were called to the scene on Venables Avenue, Onekawa at 2pm, a Fire and Emergency spokesperson told 1 NEWS.

Two ambulances are on the scene with staff treating the two injured.

More to come.

Fire engine Source: 1 NEWS