Otago chairwoman of the Property Investors Association Wendy Bowman is sceptical about the proposed housing warrant of fitness scheme. Photo by Samantha McPherson.
A warrant of fitness scheme to improve the health and
safety of New Zealand's rental houses is coming under fire
for being too strict while others are saying it is just the
first step. Dan Hutchinson explores the latest
A Dunedin property investors' spokeswoman says she does not
believe any of the 125 houses trialled under a new warrant of
fitness (Wof) scheme have passed the test.
Those involved in the trial refused to release any results of
the tests that were done over the past few weeks on houses in
five cities around the country, including Dunedin.
The Wof-style checklist was developed at the University of
Otago (Wellington) and the trial is run by the New Zealand
Green Building Council.
Otago Property Investors Association president Wendy Bowman
said there were so many criteria to pass in the Wof that no
house could pass first time around.
She had been in contact with some of those involved in
organising and conducting the trials and would be interested
to see the report when it was released in about two weeks.
''Actually, I don't think any [houses] in New Zealand have
passed or would pass. Even the newer ones, I don't think
''The Dunedin City Council didn't expect any of their
properties to pass, so it is basically putting out a tool to
see how it works.''
About half of the 25 properties that were tested in Dunedin
are understood to be council flats but the council's events
and community development manager, Rebecca Williams, would
not confirm they had failed to make the grade.
''That is speculation at the moment until we get the report
... I am not prepared to comment on that until the report has
been released, so, yes I do know, but there is a process in
Local authorities and private investors in Dunedin,
Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Auckland are all
involved in the trial.
The checklist is based on research by the Housing and Health
Research Programme, led by University of Otago (Wellington)
professor Philipa Howden-Chapman. It also has the support of
the Accident Compensation Corporation.
Mrs Williams said it was ''a trial of a tool'' and they were
a long way from anything being mandatory.
''We have always been really clear that on the whole we think
landlords are doing a great job. However, there is a need to
improve New Zealand's housing stock and this is a way of
Ms Bowman said if property investors were made to comply with
''a blanket approach'' then the costs for tenants would go
There was already pressure on landlords to provide effective
insulation and heating and they would struggle to rent out
their properties if they were not up to scratch, she said..
A lot of the items in the Wof were small things that were not
found in most houses and others were things that should be
fixed anyway, she said.
''If someone trips, you have to have a hand rail there in
case they fall over ... and, believe it or not, ensure there
is flushing water in the toilet.''
There will be a meeting of interested parties next month.