Whanganui landlords failing to provide an insulated home for their tenants are slipping through the cracks.

But new legislation aims to stop this from happening.

Insulation will be made compulsory in all rental homes from July 1 next year and landlords that fail to comply with the regulations may be liable for a penalty of up to $4000.

The change in policy comes as good news to the Whanganui Regional Health Network (WRHN) who have co-ordinated the Healthy Homes initiative, providing landlords or owner-occupants with a subsidised insulation rate for over 13 years.

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WRHN chief executive Judith MacDonald said lack of policy prevented landlords from being held responsible for providing a warm, dry home for their tenants.

"If a family is in a rental accommodation and the housing stock is not up to standard to even commence insulation, due to leaking pipes or rotten floor boards etc, then the WRHN is in no position to influence the owner of the property to put it right."

Mrs MacDonald said it meant the "Healthy Homes" programme moves on to the next family on the list.

"This new legislation requiring landlords to meet a standard will help I think."

The "Healthy Homes" project aimed to help reduce Whanganui's alarming asthma rates that showed one in four Whanganui children suffered from asthma.

Ambulatory sensitive hospitalisations (ASH) data, that show the rate of short-term hospital admissions that are considered preventable, were made available to the WDHB at the end of July 2017.

The results showed that respiratory admissions continued to be the main contributor to ASH rates, accounting for over 50 per cent, and have consistently done so.

Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) portfolio manager Jon Buchan said the bulk of these admissions were children who lived in decile four and five homes that were cold and damp.

"These houses are most likely to trigger respiratory distress in whoever inhabits them."

Rotten floor boards preventing a home from being insulated. Photo/file
Rotten floor boards preventing a home from being insulated. Photo/file

After pleas from other board members that more needed to be done to reduce these rates, Dr Buchan said as a DHB it's difficult to resolve social issues.

All members of the WDHB agreed a letter should be sent to Whanganui's mayor Hamish McDouall to take a lead via collaborative group Safer Whanganui, of which the WDHB is part of.

WDHB general manager, Tracey Schiebli, said the board believe Safer Whanganui would be an effective mechanism to lever change due to the broad participation across health and social sectors.

"The Council has responsibilities in relation to environments and so appropriately plays an important role."

She said effective mechanisms for leadership of this issue in our other TLA areas of Waimarino and Taihape also needed to be considered.

"Discussions have already commenced in this regard," Ms Schiebli said.