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Govt needs to clean up slum boarding houses

The Government’s response to a parliamentary committee report on boarding houses will do nothing to help people languishing in slum conditions, says Labour’s Associate Housing spokesperson Su’a William Sio.

“Boarding houses are a last resort for many people who are homeless or down on their luck. Although the parliamentary committee found that some boarding houses were unsafe and insanitary, the Government is opting to do nothing serious about the problem

“The plight of people in slum boarding houses is one of the most heart-rending aspects of National’s housing crisis. But all the Government wants to do is tinker with the bureaucratic details of outdated regulations. This is more window dressing by a Government that is more interested in looking like it is doing something instead of actually fixing problems.

“Labour believes it is time to get tough on rogue boarding house operators by introducing a licensing regime, and a set of minimum standards based on the proposed housing Warrant of Fitness, backed up by a tough compliance system.

“National’s excuse for not setting minimum standards for boarding houses is the risk that landlords would shut down and leave tenants with nowhere to live. Instead of shutting down the rogues, and investing in decent emergency accommodation for the homeless, National chooses to allow Victorian-era slum boarding houses to continue in the 21st century.

“The Government’s refusal to clean up slum boarding houses is callous and arrogant.”