Associate Housing Minister Poto Williams has revealed the Government is not collecting data on how many rentals are compliant with its Healthy Homes Standards.
Williams also revealed there is no requirement for rental properties to be assessed by third parties to verify whether the property meets the Healthy Homes Standards.
Williams made the revelations in written responses to Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, who says it's time to start registering rental properties and their status in compliance with Healthy Homes standards in the form of a Warrant of Fitness (WOF).
"We need to get the basics right," Swarbrick, the Green Party's spokesperson and advocate for renters, told Newshub.
"That means registering rental properties and their status in compliance with Healthy Homes Standards in the form of a WOF, as well as landlords and property managers, to ensure things are up to scratch and everyone's protected and aware of their rights and responsibilities if anything goes wrong.
"We can only build decent systems when we have decent data and the ability to easily pinpoint system failure."
The Government's Healthy Homes Standards became law in July 2019. It introduced specific and minimum standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, drainage and moisture levels in rental properties.
All private rentals must now comply within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy, while all houses rented by the Government's public housing agency Kāinga Ora and registered Community Housing Providers have until July next year to comply.
Landlords are responsible for maintaining and improving the quality of their rental properties. But Swarbrick is shocked the Government keeps no record of how many rentals are compliant with the new rules.
"You're not accountable when you're not counting."
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which oversees Tenancy Services, says while it does not record whether rental properties are compliant with Healthy Homes Standards, its Tenancy Compliance and Investigations team (TCIT) does record identified breaches.
Since the new legislation came into force, TCIT has resolved 1304 interventions, including 219 that were complaint-driven, according to MBIE's Dan Herlihy, National Manager, Tenancy Compliance and Investigations.
"Through Tenancy Services and TCIT, a range of interventions, both proactive and reactive, are undertaken to ensure landlords are meeting their obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986," he told Newshub.
Swarbrick says 1000-odd interventions in a scheme of 527,000 rental properties represents a 0.002 percent hit rate.
"Based on the horror stories we've all heard and the scale of problems renters report, I'd suggest this is just touching the sides of the problems out there. But therein lies the issue once again. Because the Government doesn't collect this data, no one actually knows."
Swarbrick is concerned about MBIE relying on renters to make complaints. As Williams told Swarbrick: "It is the landlord's obligation to ensure they are meeting their obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986."
And Swarbrick says it remains unclear exactly how TCIT proactively investigates Healthy Homes Standards breaches.
"It'd be great if those processes could be made transparent".
MBIE told Newshub TCIT monitors and enforces compliance with the Residential Tenancies Act, but didn't go into a lot of detail.
"Where on-going breaches are identified, the TCIT team uses a number of interventions and enforcement activities to ensure landlords comply with their obligations under the Act. This includes holding landlords to account and requiring them to change their behaviour where necessary.
"As well as investigating alleged breaches, landlords and property management companies are proactively visited, and their business processes and systems are assessed for compliance with the Act."
Last month Newshub revealed the Government's commitment to solving the housing crisis was in doubt due to just a handful of staff working on residential tenancy issues.
Trade Me's latest Rental Price Index for January shows the national median rent climbed 6 percent in 12 months to reach a record-breaking $570.
When compared with the same month in 2021, every region in New Zealand saw a drop in the number of rentals available In January.