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Purpose and summary

Measuring housing quality: Potential ways to improve data collection on housing quality in New Zealand discusses what is meant by housing quality and presents potential measures of housing quality and possible ways to improve the collection of housing quality statistics. The paper includes a discussion of current sources of information on housing quality and looks at information available overseas. Our intention is to stimulate discussion on the definition of housing quality and what should be measured.


Housing quality is a key gap in New Zealand’s Official Statistics System, as identified by the latest review of Tier 1 Statistics. This paper helps to advance the recommendations of the Review of housing statistics report 2009 (Statistics NZ, 2009b) and the 2012 Review of Tier 1 statistics (Statistics NZ, 2012).

Measuring housing quality recommends that the housing community agree on the definition of housing quality and the purpose of data collection about housing quality before a plan of action can be established. We expect this report to form a base for discussion in the wider housing sector, with the aim of agreeing on housing quality measures and data collection.

The paper also includes some background about measuring housing quality, and describes how national statistical offices overseas collect housing quality statistics.

Questions for agencies to consider

To help stimulate discussion, here are questions agencies involved with providing housing, determining housing policy, and collecting housing data could consider.

What definition of housing quality should be used in New Zealand?

What should information about housing quality be used for? For example, to:

  • measure the quality of housing stock in order to develop effective housing policy?
  • set targets for the improvement of the nation’s housing stock and be able to evaluate progress?
  • measure the success of government interventions such as the insulation subsidy?
  • target interventions to particular areas and population groups?
  • analyse the effect of housing quality on health and other outcomes?

What approach do you think would be most effective in order to achieve these aims?

Are there other possible approaches to measuring housing quality that have not been included here?

If so, what are these approaches?

Key points about housing quality statistics and options

  • The OECD (2011) regards the production of better and more consistent measures of housing quality internationally as an important area for statistical development.
  • While New Zealand has some statistics on housing quality, these have tended to be intermittent and limited in scope so it would be beneficial for New Zealand to develop housing quality statistics that would be internationally comparable and consistent over time.
  • It is important that there is clear agreement about what constitutes housing quality and what should be measured before a programme of work can be put into place.

This paper suggests a number of potential options for improving statistics on housing quality including:

  • An expanded household survey (such as the General Social Survey) with questions on housing quality combined with an objective measurement – combining with housing condition inspection in partnership with Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ).
  • A housing survey based upon an overseas model such as the Scottish Housing Condition Survey.
  • An expanded BRANZ survey.
  • An expanded section on housing quality in General Social Survey or a module added to Household Economic Survey.
  • Incorporating data collection in the Warm up New Zealand Healthy Homes programme run by Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
  • Incorporating data collection in the proposed warrant of fitness for rental housing.
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