There is no single place that has a bigger impact on our quality of life than our home.
Sanctuary, safety, warmth, security, and privacy are a few of the things that jump to mind when I consider the basic necessities of every home. Despite this, we know too well that most of these are luxuries when it comes to Wellington flats.
Last week’s drop in temperature would have served as a reminder to students about the upcoming winter. It is only a couple of months until the unstoppable black mould spores and bitterly cold southerly drafts begin to take hold of flats once again.
But why is this the case? Why, when paying above average rents, do we have to settle for houses that are making us sick?
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The problem is not isolated to students. Our crappy flats are just one part of a national epidemic. The result of a critical lack of decent affordable housing throughout the country, and our health and economy are suffering because of it.
This lack of supply largely comes back to the fact that the government builds far fewer houses than they used to. With low supply and few houses being built, proper regulation of rental quality is the only thing that will make a difference to our flats.
The government has finally responded to calls for regulation. The insulation standards that have been proposed will do little on their own, and unless some ventilation and heating requirements are also included, the cold and mould in our flats is here to stay.
Enforcing requirements then becomes key. Currently only 10% of Tenancy Tribunal cases are taken by tenants; we know this is not because houses are free of problems.
VUWSA has been pushing for changes through select committee and the Ministry of Social Development, but local government also has the power to implement rental standards. The city council must do the right thing and introduce a rental warrant of fitness in Wellington.
Your stories can help us convince power holders that the system is broken. If you have a horror flatting experience that you would like the government or council to hear, send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org