Mandatory warrants of fitness for rental homes and rent rise limits are being called for by a lobby group, following the release of its damning report into New Zealand's rental market.
But landlords say the changes recommended in the report would do more harm for renters than good.
The People's Review of Renting report, released by lobby groups Renters United and ActionStation today, compiles the testimonies of about 600 renters from June and July this year.
The submitters were self-selecting and gathered through a voluntary online survey.
Many of the accounts paint a bleak picture of cold, damp and mouldy homes, with 70 per cent saying their rental home did not have ceiling or underfloor insulation and 52 per cent saying their home wasn't weather-tight.
More than a quarter said their health was being affected.
"This report highlights the experiences of renters, many of whom feel powerless, insecure and like second-class citizens," Renters United spokeswoman Kate Day said.
The report's authors recommend:
* Introducing a mandatory rental warrant of fitness
* Limiting rent rises - proportionally to minimum wage rises - and abolishing letting fees
* Make it so tenants can't be evicted without fault, including if the house is sold.
But the Property Investors' Federation disputes both the findings and the recommendations, saying more scientific research has found 77 per cent of rentals have insulation.
"There are already many regulations controlling the standard of rental properties in New Zealand and high penalties for landlords who do not meet these regulations," executive officer Andrew King said.
"Having tenants take control of the property without any benefit or allowance to the owner would see many rental properties removed from the market. This would not be good news for tenants."
The Green Party says it supports many of the recommendations in the report, including the WOF and greater security for renters.
"With nearly half of New Zealanders renting, the grim findings of the review are a wakeup call about the true state of rentals," social housing spokeswoman Marama Davidson said.
Wellington City Council last week announced a voluntary rental warrant of fitness standard.