Monday, September 03, 2012

Slumlord MPs

Just last week, John Key was calling for New Zealand's landlords to up their game, and threatening to regulate if they didn't insulate their damp, cold, musty houses. But it turns out that his MPs are part of the problem. The Herald did some digging into National MPs who declared that they owned rental properties, and found that, yes, they were renting out cold, damp, uninsulated homes:

Tenants of three Government MPs live in cold, damp homes where the insulation is inadequate or non-existent.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman, who lives in a $1.74 million waterfront house on Auckland's Northcote Point, is owner or trustee of two small rental properties.

In one, in Summer St, Ponsonby, one of the tenants said the house was cold in winter and she thought it had made her sick. An insulation inspector said it had some ceiling insulation but nothing underfloor.

In another, in Dominion St, Takapuna, pregnant mum Rebekah Brittin said she was worried for the health of her three-year-old son and her baby, due in summer.

The Herald also cites Cam Calder and Jian Yang as renting out uninsulated properties - the latter has asked his tenants to get a Community Services Card so he can get a subsidised insulation upgrade. I guess that $140,000 a year backbencher's salary just doesn't go far enough...

Coleman meanwhile is desperately trying to pretend that he has nothing to do with his slum rentals, and has even told the Herald he's selling one. Hopefully they'll check back to see if that's real, or like Phil Goff's promise to sell the Wellington apartment he was renting to Labour backbenchers: simply an attempt to sterilise the issue.

As for the policy of requiring landlords to insulate, it shows what we're up against. As with tax cuts for the rich, MP's personally profit from poor standards, and have a conflict of interest on any attempt to improve them. Sadly, in internal party policy debates which precede legislation being brought to the House, the conflict is likely to go undeclared and unrecognised.