Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Mike Butler: Blaming landlords for dampness
A proposed warrant of fitness scheme for rental properties tends to blame landlords for dampness that could be solved by occupants simply opening windows and wiping away condensation.
Dampness in a home could come from rain or ground moisture; from plumbing leaks or portable gas heaters; from cooking, showering, cleaning, and washing and drying laundry; and from breathing, perspiration, animals, or plants.
The Residential Tenancies Act requires landlords to provide premises in a “reasonable state” of cleanliness for an incoming tenant. Once the tenant moves in, they are responsible for maintaining the premises in a clean and tidy condition.
The warrant of fitness scheme currently being tested, asks whether the home has windows, whether there are leaks, whether it has a ground vapour barrier, whether storm and waste water is being adequately discharged, and whether any water is forming a pond under the house.
However, a home will become damp if occupants use portable gas heaters, and if they cook, shower, and dry laundry inside without opening windows, even if the property is insulated.
Besides being unable to address the main cause of dampness in housing, a failure by some occupants to open windows and wipe away condensation, a predicted $9700 per property cost of the proposed warrant-of-fitness scheme will bring rent rises that are the last thing any tenant wants.
The WOF scheme should either be scrapped, or, if the government is really keen on the modest health budget savings the scheme is purported to bring, the government should pay for private sector upgrades.
at 1:12 PM