House buyers told to make them liveable

Last updated 05:00 15/01/2013

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Christchurch landlords are being warned not to exploit tenants by renting out earthquake-damaged and potentially unhealthy houses.

The Press reported yesterday that houses judged by insurance companies as uneconomic to repair were being snapped up by investors and rented out for a high return.

In response, Canterbury District Health Board medical officer of health Alistair Humphrey said landlords should not exploit the rental shortage in the city to offer unhealthy homes to tenants.

"Investing in a rental property brings certain degrees of responsibility [and] landlords need to ensure the dwelling is well-heated, well-insulated and well-ventilated."

He said potential tenants needed to make sure properties would stay warm during winter.

"It might be nice and warm now, but in six months when it's raining and cold, what seemed like a good deal could lead to lost days at work and at school."

He said the health board did not record how many patients came from potentially substandard homes, but research showed that people living in houses with a temperature below 16 degrees Celsius had a "significant" increase in hospital and GP visits.

Tenants Protection Association manager Helen Gatonyi said she was aware of many tenants who had suffered as a result of living in quake-damaged homes.

"I just felt sick when I read about it. Some people think it's OK to make a buck at any expense, but it's not OK when your investment is more important than the wellbeing of citizens."

She said many tenants would not complain because of the difficulty of finding a home.

"They just know there is nowhere for them to go to, so even with the best advice in the world and knowing their rights, they won't say anything."

The association planned to monitor the issue as winter approached, she said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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