The response by some has been to indicate that this is perhaps an isolated incident or partially the fault of the tenants.
The reality is that this horrible story is just the tip of the iceberg. This report from the Asthmas Foundation highlights that the cost of respiratory illnesses (influenced largely by living conditions) to the New Zealand economy in 2011 was at least $5.6 billion dollars. The massive scale of this financial burden indicates that this is a systemic issue that individual tenants cannot influence.
What should we do? The Warm Up New Zealand program was certainly a great start but really needs to be expanded and it's still essentially a voluntary program. The Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill would have created a WOF for rental housing. Unfortunately the bill was voted down in parliament. Having worked on a similar scheme in the UK, I can vouch that it works. So I would urge everyone to keep pushing for a rental WOF.
Regardless of the moral and legal imperative to ensure everyone has access to affordable, healthy and comfortable housing, the economics of wasting billions of dollars on avoidable health costs would surely indicate that this is an issue we should be addressing right now.