Slum boarding houses have 'got to stop' - Labour

Vulnerable Aucklanders are living in slum boarding houses, run by landlords propped up by Government money.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of boarding houses are exploiting vulnerable people because the Government is struggling to keep up with demand for emergency housing, the Labour Party says.

An investigation by The Nation found horrific conditions at boarding houses in Papatoetoe and Otahuhu. Most windows were missing panes of glass, leaving the filthy pest-infested house freezing cold. The house smells like excrement because there is no working toilet. 

One of the filthy rooms in a boarding house visited by The Nation.
One of the filthy rooms in a boarding house visited by The Nation. Photo credit: The Nation

Tenants are paying $230 a week for a room in the boarding house.

In some cases, Work and Income pays tenants' rent directly into the account of the landlord. The beneficiary never sees that money and has little control over its payment.

Up to 10 people live in the boarding house.
Up to 10 people live in the boarding house. Photo credit: The Nation

Labour Party's housing spokesperson Phil Twyford told The AM Show it's an emergency.

He said Labour will legislate tough minimum standards to make sure boarding houses are safe, warm and dry: "Not the kind of rat-infested dumps that we saw on Caitlin McGee's fantastic report on The Nation this week."

Labour's housing spokesperson Phil Twyford on The AM Show.
Labour's housing spokesperson Phil Twyford on The AM Show. Photo credit: The AM Show

Labour plans to bring in a warrant of fitness that would "urgently" clean out slum boarding houses within three months of the election.

This is in addition to building thousands of extra state homes and instigating an urgent, comprehensive emergency housing programme. 

Mr Twyford said if you don't provide emergency housing, these boarding houses are the result.

"There are hundreds if not thousands of unregulated, unlicensed boarding houses in Auckland, with people living in the most appalling conditions. It's got to stop.

"The Government should have put relocatables on available public land, just as they did in Christchurch after the earthquake. This is an emergency, for goodness sake."

Slum boarding houses have 'got to stop' - Labour
Photo credit: The Nation
The rooms are infested with flies and cockroaches.
The rooms are infested with flies and cockroaches. Photo credit: The Nation

The landlord who runs the boarding houses visited by The Nation also had four to five other properties. 

Jenny Salesa , Labour MP for Manukau East, raised a complaint with Auckland Council about the property after a resident came to her. The council slapped on an insanitary notice, but the landlord continued to charge rent.

"This landlord still gets a lot of money from these very vulnerable people that have no other place to live," Ms Salesa told The Nation. 

A report into the state of boarding houses started in 2011 blamed a lack of enforcement at local and national government level for housing conditions that fail to meet health and safety standards.

Boarding house expert Clare Aspinall told The Nation regulations could be improved but they are are there. She said the standards are not enforced.

"The Tenancy Tribunal and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment do have the powers to go into boarding houses and address these issues - also local government does have the ability to - however, those aren't being followed through currently."

Newshub.

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