SO THE National Government wants to bring in housing "warrants of fitness" for landlords.
The opposition might well call it a "stunt" in starting off with a test run on 500 state homes, saying the real problem lies in the private sector.
And that might be true. But my view is: About. Bloody. Time.
What is incredible is the aspects of a home, that most of us take for granted, are listed as requirements.
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I mean, most of us never have to question the basic idea of a room having light, yet an electric light in every room is specified as part of the warrant of fitness. Also required are no leaks and good ventilation, presumably to try and prevent illness such as asthma. Homes have to be insulated. They have to have a bathroom and a kitchen.
What sort of world are we living in where we have people renting a home with no bathroom or kitchen? It used to be a New Zealand standby - and I'm sure it's still the case - that a means of heating food was in place when you moved into a house, even if it's just a hotplate, as I once saw in a story on Wairarapa's cheapest rental property.
We've all had our student days when you could roll a marble across a floor of your flat and the carpet would be threadbare. But if you ever head to the student ghetto of Dunedin these days, you'll see landlords who woo students with the latest materials. They get treated better than many standard tenants, with families and small children.
And yes, I'm sure there are the "horror" tenants (students among them) who are nothing but grief for landlords.
But as far as I'm concerned, being a landlord carries a responsibility and a duty of care towards the well-being and welfare of the tenants. In fact, it would be a privilege to be a landlord, knowing you are providing one of the basic essentials of survival; a roof over someone's head.
I would be ashamed if I was a landlord who had tenants who were cold, getting ill and felt trapped in a bad situation. I think there are too many landlords who probably figure: if they don't like it, they can go elsewhere.
My view is, people have a right to live without being cold or ill, and the benchmark to achieve that not be the rental price. Hopefully this warrant concept will set a new level.