How is the Council using its rights under the Public Health Act to inspect rental housing properties?

Aaron Packard made this Official Information request to Nelson City Council

The request was successful.

From: Aaron Packard

Dear Nelson City 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.
Thank you.

Aaron Packard
Renters United Organiser
027 3519994


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The Housing Improvement Regulations 1947, originally made under the Housing Improvement Act 1945, are now in force under the Health Act 1956 (s120c).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) <>.
**Barry Barton, ‘A Warm and Dry Place to Live: Energy Efficiency and Rental Accommodation’, Canterbury Law Review, 19 (2013), 1–25 (pp. 10–13).

Link to this

Nelson City Council

Kia ora Mr Packard,


Thank you for your LGOIMA request for information received at Council on
12 September 2020. The Service request number assigned to your request is


We will endeavour to respond to your request as soon as possible and in
any event no later than 09 October 2020, as requested. If we are unable to
respond to your request by then, we will notify you of an extension of
that timeframe.


If you have any queries, please feel free to contact me at
[1][email address].



Ngā mihi,




Venus Sood

Administration Coordinator

Nelson City Council | Te Kaunihera o Whakatū
P 03 546 0404

021 154 3084



If your email is related to a LGOIMA request, please send it to
[3][email address]

For more information about Privacy and Official Information requests,
click here:



This email is covered by the disclaimers which can be found at
If you have received this email and any attachments to it in error, please
take no action based on it, copy it or show it to anyone. Please advise
the sender and delete your copy. Thank you.


Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. file:///tmp/
3. mailto:[email address]

Link to this

From: Mandy Bishop
Nelson City Council

Good morning Aaron

Please find below the responses to each of your questions. Please contact me if you need anything clarified.

I agree with the conclusion in the Wellington City Council report you refer to below that:

" 41. The new healthy homes standards reflect a significant push by central government on improving the quality of rental properties. While the final date for compliance is not until 1 July 2024, all new tenancies must comply from 1 July 2021. Tenancy Services’
Compliance and Investigations team has clear responsibility for the enforcement of these standards and taking action against landlords who persistently fail to comply with requirements. MBIE is leading on information campaigns to inform landlords and property management companies of the new requirements.
42. Officers are of the view that the Building Act’s Dangerous and Insanitary Building provisions should be utilised for exceptional circumstances, mainly triggered by a specific event, where health is endangered and which are reliant on timely responses by Council and property owners."

The enforcement tools under the Public Health Act available for Council are cumbersome compared to the provisions under the Building Act.

You have the right to seek an investigation and review by the Ombudsman of this response. Information about how to make a complaint is available at or Freephone 0800 802 602.

Kind regards

Mandy Bishop
Manager Consents and Compliance
Kaiwhakahaere tautukunga i nga whakaaetanga

Nelson City Council | Te Kaunihera o Whakatū
P 03 545 8740

show quoted sections

Link to this

Things to do with this request

Nelson City Council only: