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Perceptions of housing quality in 2014/15

Purpose and background

This article explores the perceived quality of housing in New Zealand. It looks at different population subgroups, including home owner-occupiers and renters, to better understand people’s perception of their housing quality, and identifies the groups that are most likely to be affected by these problems.

The article also compares what the perceptions of housing quality look like across six regions: Auckland, Wellington, Northland/ Bay of Plenty/ Gisborne, Rest of North Island, Canterbury, and Rest of South Island.

Housing adequacy is a major contributor to outcomes in many social domains, such as health, education, paid work, economic standard of living, social connectedness, culture and identity, safety and security, and leisure and recreation (Statistics New Zealand, 2009). Poor housing can have an adverse effect on many areas of people’s lives.

The 2014 New Zealand General Social Survey (NZGSS) asked questions relating to housing quality. These included questions on general condition, dampness, and cold. It surveyed almost 9,000 New Zealanders aged 15 years and over between April 2014 and March 2015.

The NZGSS runs every two years. The survey looks at a range of social and economic outcomes and asks people how they feel about different aspects of their lives.

A similar report looking at perceptions of housing quality was published in 2013 which reviewed the results of the 2010 NZGSS. This is discussed below although we have not directly compared the data as housing quality questions in the 2014 survey were changed from those of previous years.

Summary of key points

  • Just over one-third of adult New Zealanders felt no repairs or maintenance were needed on their homes (36 percent).
  • Just under half of renters reported they had a problem with dampness or mould, compared with around one-quarter of home-owners.
  • Pacific peoples were the ethnic group most likely to report cold and damp problems; 15 percent reported a major dampness problem while 43 percent stated they were always or often cold.
  • People in one-parent families were more likely than those in other family types to report housing problems.
  • People of prime working age (25–44 years) were twice as likely, at 8 percent, to feel they needed extensive or immediate repairs on their homes as older people (65+).
  • We found little difference in housing quality perceptions across the six regions.

Almost half of New Zealanders report living in a cold house

Nearly half of New Zealand adults reported living in a cold house, with more than 1 in 5 individuals (21 percent) feeling their homes were often or always cold. More than 6 in 10 (64 percent) people felt they needed some repairs and maintenance on their homes. More than 3 in 10 (32 percent) felt they had a problem with dampness, with 6 percent reporting the problem was a major one.

Figure 1

Graph, Self-reported housing problems, total population, April 2014 to March 2015.

Renters more likely than owner-occupiers to report problems

The majority (64 percent) of individuals reported a need for maintenance or repairs on their homes, but a higher proportion of renters (67 percent) than owner-occupiers (63 percent) said this.

Three-quarters (75 percent) of owner-occupiers said they had no problem with dampness, while just over half of renters (55 percent) said the same. Renters were four times more likely (12 percent) to report a major dampness problem than owner-occupiers (3 percent).

Renters were also far more likely than owner-occupiers to report finding their homes were always or often cold – 35 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

The BRANZ 2010 House Condition Survey, which includes physical inspections of housing, found that rental housing was in worse condition than owner-occupied housing and had a higher incidence of components in poor or serious condition (BRANZ, 2012).

Figure 2

Graph, Self-reported housing problems, by tenure, April 2014 to March 2015.

Pacific peoples most likely ethnic group to report cold and damp homes

Pacific peoples were the most likely ethnic group to report a major problem with cold (43 percent) and dampness (15 percent), while Māori were the most likely to report a need for immediate or extensive repairs on their homes (13 percent).

Asian people were the least likely to report a major dampness problem (4 percent) or that extensive repairs were needed (4 percent), while European people were the most likely to report no issues with cold in their homes (56 percent).

European people were the least likely ethnic group to rent (27 percent), followed by Asian people (41 percent). Proportions for Māori (58 percent) and Pacific peoples (71 percent) were significantly larger.

figure 3

Graph, Self-reported housing problems, by ethnic group, April 2014 to March 2015.

People in one-parent families most likely to report housing problems

Almost one-third (33 percent) of people in one-parent families said their homes were always or often cold. This was double the proportion for people in couple-without-children families reporting the same problem (15 percent). People who lived in one-parent families were also more than three times as likely to report dampness as a major problem (11 percent) than those in couple-without-children families (3 percent).

When we looked at who was renting, we found that people in one-parent-with-children families were the most likely to be renters (54 percent), followed by those not in a family nucleus (51 percent). People who lived in couple family types, either with children (28 percent rented) or without (22 percent), were considerably less likely to be renters.

Figure 4

Graph, Self-reported housing problems, by family type, April 2014 to March 2015.

Low earners more likely to report housing problems

We found that perceptions of housing quality were strongly associated with people’s level of income. When we looked at personal income bands, people with incomes of $30,000 or less were more likely to report major housing problems than higher income earners. Almost twice the proportion (9 percent) of people in this lowest personal income band reported an immediate or extensive need for repairs or maintenance as those in the highest income band – $70,001 or more (5 percent).

People in the lowest income band were also more likely to report their homes were always or often cold (24 percent compared with 13 percent for the highest earners) and to report a major problem with dampness (8 percent compared with 3 percent).

The NZGSS 2014 results showed that people in the lowest income group were more than twice as likely (38 percent) to live in rental housing than those in the highest income group (15 percent).

Figure 5

Graph, Self-reported housing problems, by personal income, April 2014 to March 2015.

Older people least likely to report housing problems

The likelihood of reporting a major housing problem declined with life stage, as defined by age. People of prime working age (25–44 years) were the most likely age group to report problems with their housing. Older people (65+) were the least likely to report these issues.

Twice the proportion of people of prime working age (8 percent) felt they needed extensive or immediate repairs on their home as older people (4 percent). Older people were also far less likely to feel their home had a major dampness problem (3 percent) as those of prime working age (8 percent).

Again, these differences may relate to the higher proportion of renters in the younger age groups. In 2014/15, older people and people in the middle-age life stage (45–64 years) had lower proportions of renters (14 percent and 23 percent, respectively). Young people (15–24 years) and people of prime working age were far more likely to live in rental dwellings – 48 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

Figure 6

Graph, Self-reported housing problems, by age life stage, April 2014 to March 2015.

Only small differences in housing quality across regions

We compared perceptions about housing for six regions: Auckland, Wellington, Northland/ Bay of Plenty/ Gisborne, Rest of North Island, Canterbury, and Rest of South Island.

 

Table 1

Proportions of people reporting major housing quality problems 

 Region

 Immediate/extensive repairs & maintenance needed

Major dampness/mould problem 

 Always/often cold

 

 Percent

 Auckland

 5.1

 6.0

 21.9

 Wellington

 7.9

5.7

23.2

 Northland/ Bay of Plenty/ Gisborne

 9.5

7.9

23.0

 Rest of North Island

 7.7

6.6

19.9

 Canterbury

 9.3

5.6

17.6

 Rest of South Island

 6.7

5.3

21.6

 Source: Statistics New Zealand

 

People in Northland/ Bay of Plenty/ Gisborne, and Canterbury regions (10 percent and 9 percent, respectively) were almost twice as likely as those in Auckland (5 percent) to report they needed immediate repairs on their home.

Other than that, we found there wasn’t very much variance across the regions with the following exceptions:

  • People in Canterbury (6 percent) and the Rest of South Island (5 percent) were slightly less likely than people in Northland/ Bay of Plenty/ Gisborne region (8 percent) to say they had a major dampness problem.
  • People in Canterbury were considerably less likely to report their home was often or always cold (18 percent) than those in Wellington (23 percent) or Auckland (22 percent).

Conclusion

The findings above show that certain population subgroups reported higher proportions of major housing issues: people in one-parent families with children, people of prime working age, and Māori and Pacific peoples. We found that these groups were also more likely to be renters. New Zealand research has shown that rental properties are in worse condition than owner-occupied properties which may be part of the reason these groups are more likely to report housing quality issues.

NZGSS 2010/11 research found similar results. Renters, people of prime working age, people in one-parent families, and Māori and Pacific peoples were subgroups we identified as most likely to report housing quality problems (Statistics New Zealand, 2013). The 2013 report also showed there was little difference in perceptions of housing quality across the three regional centres in New Zealand.

References

BRANZ (2012). BRANZ 2010 House Condition Survey – Condition Comparison by Tenure.

Statistics New Zealand (2009). Review of Housing Statistics Report 2009. Available from www.stats.govt.nz

Statistics New Zealand (2013). Perceptions of housing quality in 2010/11. Available from www.stats.govt.nz

Published 15 October 2015
ISBN 978-0-908350-02-5 (online)

 

 

 

 

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