COMMENT:

As soon as I heard the new measures formally announced yesterday for rental properties – compulsory heaters, extractor fans, floor insulation etc - I thought good: not before time that tenants get better living conditions.

Especially elderly ones and especially in the harsh winter months. Too many rental properties are substandard in terms of heating or insulation.

Too many tenants are too timid to ask (or demand) better of their landlords, too many landlords are getting away with cutting corners.

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So on the surface of it, having homes comply with some basic health measures seems to make sense. But wait a minute - who's going to pay for all this?

Well probably not the landlord as one would hope, well not without passing the cost on to the tenant anyway.

So how much will these new healthy homes measures designed to protect tenants end up hurting them in the pocket?

Well the heating and insulation requirements alone, according to the New Zealand Property Investors' Federation, may push rents up by as much as $25 a week. And remember, rents are already at record highs according to Trade Me data.

And that's before we get to the proposed capital gains tax - and what that might do to the rental market.

So will these 'healthy homes standards' just make an already tough rental market, even tougher?

Auckland and Wellington already have skyrocketing rents and fierce competition, and we're just entering what they call "March madness", where the influx of students looking for accommodation floods and tightens the market even further.

Students aren't the only ones looking for flats of course, but many of these students claim they don't even get call backs from agents.

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A saturated market of tenants means agents can be choosy (and in some cases lazy) knowing that demand will close the deal for them with minimal output.

So with rents rising, and a limited supply of houses available, how much of a squeeze is tolerable for tenants? And how much worse will this get once these new measures become law?

Time will tell I guess, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see the market getting a whole lot worse for renters - just when we'd hoped it might get better.