A Tauranga social housing advocate says new rental rules announced by the Government will help protect some of the community's most vulnerable.

Among new standards for rental properties announced by Housing Minister Phil Twyford yesterday is a heater that can warm the space to 18C in the living room and extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms by mid-2021.

Tommy Wilson, executive director of Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services, which helps to house struggling people, said the standards could only be a good thing.


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Ultimately, the key was to create good relationships between good landlords and good tenants, he said.

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"This has proven to be the key to a pathway of long-term accommodation given the progress we have made in three short years at Te Tuinga," Wilson said.

"Problems start manifesting when greed kicks in and certain landlords exploit the most vulnerable in our community, who have no choice but to accept a rental with none of the standards minister Twyford is asking for."

Wilson said if people did not move in Twyford's direction, "we will continue to see the sick get sicker and the most vulnerable children live in a constant state of poor health [with] poor prospects".

Tauranga Property Investors' Association leaders were not able to be contacted for comment yesterday but its umbrella organisation, the NZ Property Investors' Federation, said although it supported the move, tenants would end up paying the price.

Executive officer Andrew King said fixed heating in rentals was a great idea but heat pumps were expensive to buy and install, maintain and replace and could increase rental prices by $15 a week.

"This means tenants who do not want and will not use a heat pump will still be paying for it through higher rent," King said.

"Allowing cheaper but less energy-efficient heaters would not require rental price increases and would give tenants greater choice in how they live in their home."

National housing spokeswoman Judith Collins said landlords would pass costs on to tenants.

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New Zealand Green Building Council's Andrew Eagles said too many children ended up in hospital due to terrible, unacceptable housing and far too many Kiwis lived in homes "that just aren't good enough".

The standards won't take effect for four years, which Eagles said was "too late".

"And there [are] also some details lacking, around important issues including draughts and heat. These need to be completed and made public sooner rather than later."

From mid-2021, the new required standards are:

• Heating: Rental homes must have a fixed heating device that can heat the living room to 18C.
• Insulation: Ceiling and underfloor insulation must either meeting the 2008 building code, or have a minimum thickness of 120mm
• Ventilation: Windows in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms must be operable and extractor fans must be in rooms with a bath or shower, or indoor cooktop.
• Moisture and drainage: If a rental property has an enclosed subfloor, it must have a ground moisture barrier if it's possible to install one.
• Draughts: Landlords must stop any unnecessary gaps or holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors, and doors that cause noticeable draughts. All unused chimneys and fireplaces must be blocked.