$380 A Week Gets You What?

The unfortunate Lagomalo family having been living in a 3 bedroomed house in Universal Drive, Henderson since 2006. This week they are being forced from their rented $380 a week home, according to an article in the Western Leader.

Why are they being “forced out” because  there’s 13 of them living in the privately owned property and it’s overcrowded? No, not according to the article.

It’s because the house had just been condemned by Waitakere City Council inspectors because it is uninhabitable, the owners have been given until 8 March to make sure the building is vacated.

The family, which is on a waiting list for a state home, have endured conditions in the house that were so bad that their health was adversely affected. They’ve put up with fungus, rotting timber and leaking pipes for some time, the owner seems to have known about it since at least last May.

Why it has taken the council so long to condemn the building is unknown but with around 100 dangerous and uninhabitable buildings to deal with a year we can only assume that these things take time.

It’s strange that there’s no mention in the article what is to become of the Lagomalo family, whether their impending eviction has got them to the top of the list for state housing or even if the family will be able to stay together.  Are they to be put out on the street?

$380 a week doesn’t buy you much does it, even in a place like Henderson. $380 for living in what seems to be little more than an overcrowded slum and their private sector landlord is given nothing other than a condemnation notice, even though she was fully aware of the living conditions in the home? Something is very wrong here.

If you want to put this into some form of perspective read Migrant Stories – A British Canadian’s Perspective. A migrant has this to say of her living accommodation in New Zealand:

Housing – Oh my gosh, we have lived in many Countries, but NZ has to have the worst housing in the world. It’s just like living in a shed at the bottom of your garden. No heating, no insulation and no double glazing and for this you can pay $350 A WEEK, yes we did. I am not exaggerating here, most of the garages in the UK are better heated and insulated than the houses in NZ. The 1st house we rented was only 7 years old, no heating whatsoever, little insulation and no double glazing. Double glazing has only just been introduced as a requirement for new builds this year, so houses pre 2009 do not have double glazing and houses are cold! Mould is common place in 90% of all houses because the condensation is incredible. You will need to run a dehumidifier constantly and we bought oil filled radiators for heat because they were the cheapest source of heating if there is no wood burner and our electricty bill for ONE MONTH was $400!”

The New Zealand General Social Survey interviewed 8721 people from April 2008 to March 2009.  Half of people questioned said they were having major problems with housing; most of them were concerned over heating, the size of their homes and neighbourhood noise. Many of them were also having problems with the quality of their homes.

The Housing Minister of the day said the Government was “investing heavily in upgrading the “slum” standard of its 68,000 Housing New Zealand properties, and changes to the Residential Tenancies Act would help improve the results in the next survey.”

If the Lagomalo family are waiting for a state house let’s hope they’re getting one of the upgraded ones.

To find out more about poor housing conditions in New Zealand read “The high winter death rate and burning wood to keep warm – the average NZ house is described as ‘scarily cold’ and many are compared to refugee camp huts. A study estimated that occupants’ health has been ruined in 250,000 New Zealand homes and that both old and new houses were affected. The houses were so cold, damp and poorly built that they caused serious health problems. It’s estimated that it will cost $20 billion to put it right.

One thought on “$380 A Week Gets You What?

  1. This is the classic Kiwi enterprise. Buy a little cabin and plop it into the backyard or build a garage or granny flat onto the side of the main house – and then rent it out to someone.

    This example is at least insulated, as they proudly show (!): http://www.trademe.co.nz/property/residential-property-to-rent/auction-383190782.htm

    Most are not, and tenants use space heaters of some kind. The heat often goes straight out the cracks around the edges of the windowframes or doorframes because the landlords save themselves money by doing much of the building work (and even electric) themselves. At a cost to safety and utility bills (a cost which they pass on to the tenant).

    “6 or more bathrooms” probably refers to the trees, hydrants or buildings you can step outside to take a leak on.

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