Nats wimp out on cleaning up boarding houses

National MPs on Parliament’s Social Services Select Committee have wimped out on cleaning up slum boarding houses, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

The committee has just reported back to Parliament the results of an inquiry into whether current regulations are up to the job of ensuring decent conditions in boarding houses.

“Some boarding houses are a last resort for people who would otherwise be homeless, and the inquiry heard that some tenants are putting up with unsafe, unsanitary and unhealthy living conditions. It is not good enough that vulnerable people are left to rot in slum conditions.

“Unfortunately the National MPs on the committee refused to take the obvious step of setting up a licensing regime that would see rogue operators denied a license to operate.

“They were content to wring their hands about the problem, but when it came down to solutions the best they could come up with was to ask government agencies to share information, and to ask Councils to be more proactive in enforcing standards.

“The current laws and regulations on boarding houses are a joke. There is a mish-mash of outdated laws, no proper set of minimum standards, and no agency clearly responsible for enforcement. No wonder rogue boarding house landlords can rent out slum accommodation with impunity.

“The next Labour-led Government will introduce a positive licensing regime for boarding houses based on a clear set of minimum standards. Boarding house operators will have to apply for a license, and rogue operators will be shown the door. We will do a thorough legislative review to update the rules, and mandate local government responsibility for enforcement.

“It is simply not on for some of the country’s most vulnerable people to be allowed to languish in Victorian-era slum conditions.”