My wife and I used to be landlords, having two residential rental properties at one point.
We also spent seven years as tenants, before purchasing our first home in our late 20s. The majority of landlords and tenants are excellent, however as a country we have laws that provide safety and security where exceptions exist.
This coalition Government fundamentally believe that all New Zealanders should have access to warm, dry housing; it's a key to living a fulfilling and productive life.
That's why we have recently announced new rules to ensure all rental homes are warm, dry and healthy. These rules will require all rentals to be fully insulated up to the current Building Code standards and have a fixed heating source, such as a heat pump or wood burner. It's important that we all have the ability to heat our living areas to a safe, healthy temperature, particularly in the southern areas of New Zealand.
Homes will also be drier under these changes, because kitchens will need to have range hoods and bathrooms will require extractor fans.
Most landlords comply with these rules already, but for those who don't, they will need to upgrade their properties. This investment benefits both landlords and tenants, as it lengthens the life of the capital investment.
Education is also an important factor in healthy housing, such as: opening windows at the start of the day, closing them before sunset, and opening the oven door after cooking. All these help keep homes healthy and save money.
The Healthy Homes Standards aren't the only one way the government is making sure every New Zealander lives in a home that is warm and dry.
We've also made funding available to help people who own their own homes, but can't afford to insulate. Please visit the Energywise website at:
www.energywise.govt.nz/tools/warmer-kiwi-homes-tool to see if you are eligible.
Last year we introduced the Winter Energy Payment to help a million Kiwis keep their heater on during the coldest months. The feedback on this policy, particularly from pensioners, has been very positive. This year, the payment will begin on 1 May and run through to t October.
Nearly one in three New Zealand households rent, and for too long many have struggled to heat their homes affordably and efficiently. Around 200,000 families live in rentals that don't have ceiling or underfloor insulation.
Of Hamiltonians, 42 per cent are renting, and many of these people would like to purchase their own home. We are actively working with developers around the delivery of affordable housing. New Zealand's superannuation system works well when people own a freehold house; however, it can be challenging for those still paying a mortgage or rent. This highlights the importance of high home-ownership rates.
Our country needs a range of housing, rather than only four-bedroom/two-bathroom houses on 800 sq m sections.
We all have different house requirements throughout the various stages of our lives.
Scientific evidence from the World Health Organisation tells us that cold, damp housing can severely impact people's physical and mental wellbeing. Mental health will be a key priority for this year's budget, and housing is linked to this.
Many of us take the ability to keep our homes warm and dry in winter for granted. But it's not that way for everyone in our communities.
These changes mean New Zealanders young and old will be warm and dry in the winters to come.