Still no end in sight for cold and mould in student flats

Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) says students will continue to suffer while living in houses that are making them sick, after no significant changes were made to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill in a recent Social Services Select Committee report.

‘Despite 706 submissions, many in favour of strengthening the Bill, the Select Committee have walked away from their aim to make rental housing warmer, drier and safer,’ says VUWSA President Jonathan Gee.

‘They have increased penalties for landlords who fail to meet rental standards, but continue to rely on vulnerable tenants to brave the Tenancy Tribunal before any penalties can be applied.

Their hope that the Ministry will act on behalf of all vulnerable tenants in the Tenancy Tribunal is simply unrealistic.’

Welfare Vice President Rory Lenihan-Ikin says, ‘the Select Committee have said the right things around the power imbalance between tenants and landlords, but they’ve failed to back that up with action.’

In February VUWSA President, Jonathan Gee, and Welfare Vice President, Rory Lenihan-Ikin, gave an oral submission, supporting an earlier written submission to the Social Services Select Committee on the Government’s Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill.

Gee and Lenihan-Ikin provided three key recommendations to strengthen the Bill, namely ventilation, heating and greater enforcement. Recent examples submitted by students outlining how their poor living conditions had negatively impacted their health and wellbeing were also provided.

‘We will continue to campaign for the introduction of a rental-housing Warrant of Fitness (WoF) to improve housing conditions for students as we have for several years now. I hope the Council candidates prioritise a rental WoF in the upcoming election in October,’ says Gee.

(Read the Social Services Select Committee’s full report here.)