Would you like to know whether the rental property you're looking at is properly insulated?

Well, you're out of luck if you live among the majority of the population.

Dunedin City Council has been operating a Stars programme (student tenancy accommodation rating scheme) since 2010, in conjunction with Otago University and the polytechnic.

The scheme compiles information on rental properties including insulation, heating and ventilation. The data is collected "in good faith" from landlords and can be accessed via a website.


Council spokeswoman Tami Sergeant said it aimed to improve the quality of housing available to students in the city.

Dunedin's student rentals are notoriously under-insulated, cold and draughty.

The Herald on Sunday is campaigning to get more homes insulated, either by extending government funding schemes or through legislation in problem areas, such as rental accommodation.

Nearly 300 Dunedin landlords have signed up to the Stars scheme, registering 900 properties - about a third of the city's rental stock.

But Auckland City Council spokeswoman Angela Jones said the scheme was unlikely to be launched in New Zealand's largest city.

She pointed to the New Zealand Green Building Council programme Homestar, which rates houses on their eco-friendliness, and is often used as a sales tool.

"Council would not be trying to replicate something that already exists for landlords."

Albrecht Stoecklein, technical marketing executive at Right House, an insulation provider with the Government's Warm Up New Zealand scheme, said the Dunedin example was an excellent idea and other councils should be encouraged to follow suit.

"The Dunedin scheme is very transparent, which I like. I think it's a great thing."

Demand means a damp flat

Lauren Jones spent last weekend cleaning mould off the ceilings of her inner-Auckland flat. The 29-year-old student has been living in her Grey Lynn bungalow for two years and says it's cold, damp and draughty.

There is no insulation and the only heating method that she and her flatmates use is gas heating - which in turn pumps moisture into the air.

Jones said the Dunedin Stars scheme would be good in Auckland - but she said on a limited budget, she was forced to rent whatever she could find, healthy or not.

"I don't know if I've ever lived in a rental that's insulated. But, in general, landlords know they don't have to do anything because of the demand."