Dunedin homes part of 'Wof' trial

Homestar director Leigh Featherstone (left) and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull at a New Zealand Green Building Council event, in Dunedin in August. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Homestar director Leigh Featherstone (left) and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull at a New Zealand Green Building Council event, in Dunedin in August. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Twenty-five Dunedin rental properties will be part of national trial of a housing warrant of fitness assessment system aimed at lifting housing standards.

About 125 rental properties are to be given the once-over by home assessment experts in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, with support from each of those city's councils.

The field tests will be done in January and February and the results published in March.

Houses tested will not get a Wof immediately; rather they will be part of an exercise to test the assessment tool, to ensure it works appropriately.

The scheme is intended to make rental housing safer to live in, especially for children, students and the elderly.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said improving the housing quality was essential for Dunedin's economic and social welfare and a collaborative programme such as this would help the city develop appropriate ways to achieve that.

The assessment tool was developed by the NZ Green Building Council and the University of Otago (Wellington) with feedback and input from the five involved councils, ACC and other housing experts. ACC's programme manager for home safety, Megan Nagel, said ACC was supporting the Wof trial as part of its focus on reducing injuries in and around the home.

Homestar director at the New Zealand Green Building Council, Leigh Featherstone, said the support of ACC and the cities involved showed a strong joint dedication to improving local housing and health and it was hoped that following the field tests there would be a working tool to rate rental standards nationally.

The assessments will take about an hour at each house, and will identify whether a rental property meets basic housing quality standards that impact on the following areas: warmth (or ability to effectively heat), dryness, mould and dampness, injury risk, sanitation, basic state-of-repair and basic living needs.

There will be a mixture of private rental properties and council social housing properties.

Homes will be selected by individual councils, which will recruit landlords to volunteer to participate and the councils will also select a sample of their social housing portfolio for the field test.

Each council will identify service providers to conduct the assessment.

This might be council staff, environmental health officers or eco design advisers, or independent contractors with experience in home assessments. All of the assessors will undergo training before the assessments begin.

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