Decent Expectations? The Use and Interpretation of Housing Standards in Tenancy Tribunals in New Zealand

New Zealand Universities Law Review (2014) Vol 26, No 2, pp 153-185

28 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2015  

Sarah Bierre

University of Otago - He Kainga Oranga - Housing and Health Research Programme

Mark J. Bennett

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law

Philippa Howden-Chapman

University of Otago - He Kainga Oranga - Housing and Health Research Programme

Date Written: November 1, 2014

Abstract

This article explores the content and interpretation of the minimum housing quality standards that apply to the rental sector in New Zealand, considering their place within the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. It shows that housing quality standards remains unclear and scattered over several Acts, and then provides evidence of the way these often relatively vague standards are applied in practice – and thus the expectations that tenants can expect of their house’s indoor environment, and the responsibilities this places on those offering housing for rent. It argues that the association between cold, damp housing and health is reflected in housing standards legislation only to the extent that adjudicators apply the dampness standard contained in the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947, incorporated into the landlord’s obligations by s 45(1)(c) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. However, the application by adjudicators of these standards through compensation and termination of tenancies for breaches is variable, and the lack of a clear and well-publicised standard prevents a robust enforcement of obligations of landlords to provide adequate housing to tenants.

Keywords: Property condition, private rented housing, rented housing, housing policy, housing law, health, New Zealand

JEL Classification: I31, I18, K11

Suggested Citation

Bierre, Sarah and Bennett, Mark J. and Howden-Chapman, Philippa, Decent Expectations? The Use and Interpretation of Housing Standards in Tenancy Tribunals in New Zealand (November 1, 2014). New Zealand Universities Law Review (2014) Vol 26, No 2, pp 153-185. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2594584

Sarah Bierre

University of Otago - He Kainga Oranga - Housing and Health Research Programme ( email )

PO Box 7343
Wellington South
Wellington, Wellington
New Zealand

Mark J. Bennett (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

Philippa Howden-Chapman

University of Otago - He Kainga Oranga - Housing and Health Research Programme ( email )

P.O. Box 7343
Wellington South
Wellington, Wellington
New Zealand

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