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 Dunedin City Council

Currently waiting for a response from Dunedin City Council, they must respond promptly and normally no later than (details and exceptions).

From: Aaron Packard

Dear Dunedin 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

Appendix:

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The Housing Improvement Regulations 1947, originally made under the Housing Improvement Act 1945, are now in force under the Health Act 1956 (s120c).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).

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From: Official Information
Dunedin City Council


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Kia ora

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your official request dated 15
September 2020.

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Kā mihi

 

Rebecca Murray

GOVERNANCE SUPPORT OFFICER
CIVIC              

P  03 477 4000  |  DD  03 474 3487   | E [2][email address

Dunedin City Council, 50 The Octagon, Dunedin

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From: Aaron Packard <[FYI request #13810 email]>
Sent: Tuesday, 15 September 2020 5:43 p.m.
To: Official Information <[email address]>
Subject: Official Information request - How is the Council using its
rights under the Public Health Act to inspect rental housing properties?

 

Dear Dunedin 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

Appendix:

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)
<[5]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).

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