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One in five homes are damp

Photo: RNZ / Lauren Baker.

More than one in five homes were damp some or all of the time, and for renters, dampness was more than twice as common than for those who owned their home or held it in a family trust, says Stats NZ.

The 2018 Census results showed that 318,891 homes were affected by damp – more than the total number of occupied private dwellings in the Canterbury and Otago regions combined.


Of those homes affected by damp, 44,520 were damp all the time. A further 274,371 were sometimes damp.

“For the first time, the census provides information on dampness and mould in homes throughout New Zealand,” says census general manager Kathy Connolly.

Housing quality information collected in the 2018 Census also included access to basic amenities, such as cooking facilities and a refrigerator. This contributes to a national picture of the state of our housing.

Compared with homes that were owned or held in a family trust by the household, the homes of renters were about seven times more likely to be always damp. Of households that rented their home, 7.5 per cent reported that it was always damp, and 30.6 per cent say it was sometimes damp. For households that owned their home or held it in a family trust, 1.1 per cent say it was always damp, and 13.7 per cent say it was sometimes damp.

Dampness is when a home feels or smells damp or has damp patches on the wall, ceiling, floor, or window frames.

Visible mould larger than an A4 sheet of paper was always present in 4.3 per cent of homes and sometimes present in 12.6 per cent of homes. As with dampness, mould was more common in the homes of those who were renting.

For renters, almost 1 in 10 were living in a home where visible mould over A4 size was always present, and 1 in 5 were living in a home where this amount of mould was sometimes present. For households who owned their home or held it in a family trust, 2.1 per cent reported visible mould over A4 size was always present, and 9.5 per cent reported it was sometimes present.

The 2018 Census showed that just under 6,000 homes had none of the basic amenities asked about in the census. The basic amenities were cooking facilities, tap water that is safe to drink, kitchen sink, refrigerator, bath or shower, toilet, and electricity supply.

These amenities needed to be in working order to be counted. Renters were less likely to have access to a refrigerator, with 8.2 percent of these households reporting no access to this compared with 0.9 percent of those who owned their home or held it in a family trust.


The housing quality data from the census showed regional variations. Dampness and mould were most common in Northland, Gisborne, and Auckland. In Northland, 4.5 percent of occupied private dwellings were always damp, and 23.1 percent were sometimes damp. In Auckland, 24,765 homes always had mould over A4 size.

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