The chill may be coming off the housing market, but that isn't the case for tenants. We hear lots of crowing from the Government and the Green Party about the success of its home insulation subsidy scheme, Warm Up New Zealand, but the reality is different.
Reports indicate that only 5 per cent of rental properties have been insulated through the scheme. That's an appalling figure. A failure.
You have to feel sorry for tenants in these places. I can still vividly remember my first flat, in Wellington's Aro Valley, which was so cold and damp that it's a longstanding bookmark in my mind.
Another in Arch Hill, Auckland, was so cold and draughty that when you swept the floors you didn't need a brush and dustpan. All the rubbish fell through the wide gaps in the floorboards.
Because of its location, this house has, no doubt, been done up and is worth a million bucks.
One of the biggest problems is that property investors are wary of many of the installers who work under the scheme, some of whom do a poor job or ramp up the prices. Feedback we have had clearly shows that many home owners have chosen to go it alone.
The suggestion has been made that the government subsidy should be extended to property investors who self-install.
This makes total sense, as many investors do their own maintenance. Also, the house is their asset and their investment. But nope. The response from officials is that it's not a goer.
The Green Party has a bill it wants to get before Parliament which would force landlords to make sure their properties meet "Government standards" for heating and energy efficiency.
Many landlords have added heat pumps to their properties for the benefit of their tenants. If they are forced to spend more to insulate without access to a subsidy that makes it worthwhile, then they could well be entitled to raise rents.
Philip Macalister is the publisher of the NZ Property Investor Magazine and www.landlords.co.nz