18 Nov 2014

Rental regulation questioned after fire

1:07 pm on 18 November 2014

A public health specialist says a lack of regulation in the rental housing market is killing people - a claim rejected by landlords.

The Fire Service said it was called to the fire in Collingwood Street in Hamilton just after 5am.

Last weekend's house fire on Collingwood Street in Hamilton left three young people dead. Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Three young people - believed to be aged 17, 19 and 25 - died when fire engulfed an old villa in Hamilton in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The Waikato Fire Service said it was unlikely the house had working smoke alarms.

Otago University's Housing and Health Research Programme co-director Michael Baker said the deaths were another tragic example of problems resulting from poor regulation in the rental housing market.

"At the moment, basically rental housing is an unregulated jungle in New Zealand," he said.

"There's no requirement for things that most of us would regard as absolute basics for housing like, obviously, working smoke detectors - like having water that isn't coming out of the tap at a scalding temperature; basic health and safety features like insulation."

But NZ Property Investors Association executive officer Andrew King told Nine to Noon compulsory smoke alarms would not stop the ongoing problem of tenants removing batteries.

"They use them for a lot of toys and other things. Sometimes if they go off, they take the battery out so that they don't just annoy them."

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