How is the Council using its rights under the Public Health Act to inspect rental housing properties?
The request was successful.
From: Aaron Packard
Dear Auckland Council,
Last month, the Wellington City Council tabled a report* looking into the powers that the council has to inspect and report on unsanitary or unhealthy housing. The report showed that the Council has significantly stronger powers to enforce healthy and sanitary housing that it had been aware of or was practising. These powers are applicable to all local, unitary and district councils. You can read the legislative basis for these powers in the appendix below.
Renters United is a national organisation of renters campaigning to improve conditions for all renters in Aotearoa. We are concerned that many councils around the country are not adequately using their powers to ensure housing is healthy and sanitary, particularly private rental housing.
We write to request the following information under the Local Government Information and Meetings Act 1987:
1. In the past five years, how many times has the Council used their rights under the Public Health Act to inspect rental housing properties?
2. In the past five years, how many times has the Council exercised its powers to issue a repair or closure notice to landlords whose properties do not meet the Housing Improvement Regulations?
3. How do you identify which rental housing properties to inspect under the Public Health Act?
4. What is the process for tenants to request the Council inspect their rental housing property under the Public Health Act and provide a written report on its condition?
5. What information is available on your website or in your publications on rental housing inspections provided by the Council?
6. What is your process for engaging with the Tenancy Tribunal to provide reports on the rental housing inspections you conduct?
We look forward to hearing from you as soon as reasonably practicable.
Renters United Organiser
The legislative basis
The Housing Improvement Regulations 1947, originally made under the Housing Improvement Act 1945, are now in force under the Health Act 1956 (s120c). These regulations require that, for example, housing is free from dampness, fitted with an approved form of heating, provided with sufficient windows, provided with a toilet, and that rooms are of a minimum size. Many of these regulations are encompassed in more recent legislation, including under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 and the Residential Tenancies Act (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019. Under the Health Act 1956, local bodies are directed and empowered to enforce the regulations in their district (s23d). If housing does not comply with the Housing Improvement Regulations, local bodies can issue a repair notice or a closure notice**. The council’s public health team should inspect properties upon request and provide a written report for tenants or the Tenancy Tribunal on their observations of the state of the property.
*Wellington City Council, ‘Safety of Housing in Wellington’, in Ordinary Meeting of Strategy and Policy Committee, 2020, pp. 245–52 (p. 251) <https://wellington.govt.nz/~/media/your-...>.
**Barry Barton, ‘A Warm and Dry Place to Live: Energy Efficiency and Rental Accommodation’, Canterbury Law Review, 19 (2013), 1–25 (pp. 10–13).
From: Official Information
Good morning Aaron,
I have passed this on to our Environmental Health department who will respond to your respond to your query direct.
Grace Ray | Senior Privacy & Official Information Business Partner
From: Alan Ahmu
Please forgive the delay in responding to your enquiry on how Auckland
Council is using its rights under the Public Health Act to inspect rental
Somehow miscommunication within, Council led to this response being
The response to your questions are provided below:
1. In the past five years, how many times has the Council used their
rights under the Public Health Act to inspect rental housing properties?
The environmental health team manages the Councils enforcement and
compliance functions under the Health Act 1956. When the environmental
health team receives a complaint concerning housing, it will respond by
undertaking an inspection of the dwelling concerned. The environmental
health officer that undertakes the inspection, will have exercised their
powers of entry under section 128 of the Health Act 1956.
Tabulated below are the number of housing complaints that were lodged with
the environmental health team from 2017 to the present time. These
complaints include complaints relating to insanitary conditions,
overcrowding, boarding houses and commercial accommodation. Housing
complaints are not categorised as to the whether the dwelling concerned is
rented or owner-occupied. In order to identify the nature of the tenancy
we would need to manually look at each complaint to determine.
2017 2018 2019 2020 Total
Housing complaints - environmental health 67 31 62 100 260
Note: Council rolled out a new complaint database in Sept 2017 to combine
and replace the databases of the 7 legacy Councils. Information
concerning enforcement and compliance activities can only be readily
obtained for the period from 2017 to the present time. In order to
extract earlier information, a resource intensive manual search of the 7
legacy databases would be required.
2. In the past five years, how many times has the Council exercised its
powers to issue a repair or closure notice to landlords whose properties
do not meet the Housing Improvement Regulations?
The Council has not issued any Repair Notices or Closing Orders under
section 42 of the Health Act 1956 in relation to properties that do not
meet the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947.
3. How do you identify which rental housing properties to inspect under
the Public Health Act?
Council does not undertake proactive inspections of rental housing under
the Health Act 1956. Council responds to complaints in relation to
housing, including rental housing, and will undertake an inspections under
the Health Act 1956 in relation to those complaints.
4. What is the process for tenants to request the Council inspect their
rental housing property under the Public Health Act and provide a written
report on its condition?
Where a tenant has a complaint about the state or condition of their
rental accommodation they can lodge a complaint with the Council. The
Council will undertake an investigation under the Health Act 1956 and the
tenant can then request to be provided with the findings and outcome of
5. What information is available on your website or in your publications
on rental housing inspections provided by the Council?
Council does not provide a rental housing inspection service. Council
will investigate complaints in relation to housing, including rental
6. What is your process for engaging with the Tenancy Tribunal to provide
reports on the rental housing inspections you conduct?
A party to a hearing in the Tenancy Tribunal may request the findings and
outcome of a housing complaint investigated by Council, which can then be
used in the tribunal.
If you require any further information or advice in this matter, please do
not hesitate to contact me.
Alan Ahmu | Team Leader Food Safety & Health Enforcement
Licensing & Regulatory Compliance
Ph +64 09 301 0101 | [mobile number] 771 203
Auckland Council, 6 Henderson Valley Road, Henderson
Visit our website: www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz
Auckland 10 years together
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