John Weekes

John Weekes is an NZME. News Service reporter based in Wellington.

PM drawn into insulation row

Key warned last month that the Government could use either incentives or regulation to ensure landlords get their properties up to an adequate standard.  Photo / Ross Setford
Key warned last month that the Government could use either incentives or regulation to ensure landlords get their properties up to an adequate standard. Photo / Ross Setford

The Prime Minister has been asked to investigate one of his MPs who allegedly refused to insulate his rental property because he couldn't get a big enough public subsidy.

During a Herald on Sunday investigation, Mt Wellington tenant Joshua Tuitupou said National MP Jian Yang told him he had to get a Community Services Card before the MP would get the home insulated; otherwise, he said, it was too expensive.

If a tenant has the low-income health card, their landlord can claim a subsidy of up to $2500 on retrofitting insulation to the house. Without the card, the maximum subsidy is $1300.

Labour housing spokeswoman Annette King has written to John Key saying taxpayers would find it "unacceptable for an MP to arrange their affairs to provide a personal financial advantage for themselves".

"This allegation requires investigation as, if correct, it reflects on all Members of Parliament."

Jian Yang failed to respond to the newspaper's inquiries last week, but this week he emailed through a statement.

He did not dispute Tuitupou's allegation. "The property has been looked after by a property manager since last October (before I entered Parliament)," he said.

"Neither the manager nor I have talked to Mr Tuitupou about the insulation matter since then."

He would not discuss specific tenancy issues without a privacy waiver from Tuitupou.

Last month, Key warned the Government could use either incentives or regulation to ensure landlords get their properties up to an adequate standard. Only 5 per cent of rental homes were insulated, he said.

The Herald on Sunday has spoken to more than 20 people who rent their homes from MPs on both sides of Parliament.

Many report cold homes, and in four cases the newspaper was able to confirm the houses were not properly insulated.

National MP Cam Calder was listed as the owner of one house without adequate insulation, and defence minister Jonathan Coleman was listed as the owner of two.

Rebekah Brittin rents a two-bedroom Takapuna unit, of which Coleman is listed as co-owner with his mother Patricia, who is presently overseas.

His spokesman said he earned no income from the property and was simply a trustee without any hands-on role.

- Herald on Sunday

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