The Canterbury DHB is calling on landlords to ensure their quake damaged rental properties are up to scratch and are not putting people's health at risk.
The statement is in response to The Press (January 14, 2013) reporting that houses judged by insurance companies as too damaged to repair are being rented out.
Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health says it is important the rental housing shortage in Christchurch is not exploited by landlords renting damaged and potentially unhealthy properties to desperate tenants.
"Investing in a rental property brings certain degrees of responsibility. As the person responsible for the 'health' of a property, landlords need ensure the dwelling is well heated, well insulated, and well ventilated," Dr Humphrey says.
"From a health perspective there is nothing wrong with renting out earthquake damaged houses that may have been written off by insurers, as long as the property is weatherproof, well ventilated, and safe. Ideally rental properties will also have an energy efficient heat source."
Dr Humphrey says having a warm and dry home is vital to good health.
"A healthy home is one that is watertight and warm and dry during the winter months. Cold houses result in increased deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory disease amongst the elderly, increased respiratory problems in children, increased illnesses such as colds, influenza and mental health problems," he says.
Dr Humphrey says tenants looking for a rental property should try and find a house with insulation, an energy efficient heat source (preferably a heat pump), and thermal-lined curtains in living areas and bedrooms.
Tenants living in unsuitable housing, including being cold and damp, should contact the Environmental Health Officers at the Christchurch City Council to check whether the house is habitable or likely to pose a health risk.
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