I lived in nine rentals around the North Island before my husband and I bought our first home.

There was the shack by the beach where the kikuyu grass grew inside. The apartment so small we used the dishwasher for storage. The unit so nice and well located we couldn't believe how lucky we were to get it.

Far and away, our last rental was the worst.

When we were kicked out of the second-to-last to make way for the landlord's relative, we had already signed on to build a house.

Advertisement

We were not down and out by any stretch. But with a mortgage to pay on top of the rent, no ability to sign a long-term contract and a cat, our options were limited.

So we took the run down, cheap, available place in a safe area and hoped for a mild winter.

There was a hole in the floor around the base of the toilet where you could see the ground below. Some of the windows were either swollen shut or had cracked sills or both.

The warped exterior cladding was covered in big dark stains.

There was no extractor fan over the stove. If there was one in the bathroom (neither my husband or I recall one) it was pathetic.

A heat pump? As if.

Really the only thing that made it plausible was that I worked from home at the time so could air the place out after every shower or cup of tea. Sometimes it was just too cold for that, though.

The upside: It was a block back from a beautiful Bay beach.

And that tells you all you need to know, doesn't it?

It was a piece of valuable land for the landlord to sit on until he either sold it or built anew. Either way, the rental was just an income to pay the rates until that day came.

There was not a lick of motivation, other than altruistic, for the landlord to install an extractor fan or any form of fixed heating, let alone do the major renovations it clearly needed to bring it up to any sort of modern standard.

We stuck it out for about seven months and were glad to see the back of it. The renter who followed us into it had a baby.

This house was not unique. I saw plenty more just like it over 12 years of rental hunting in Auckland, Wellington and the Bay of Plenty.

So I say bring on the Government's new healthy homes standards, which will make extractor fans, decent heating and insulation compulsory.