State houses will have to be leak-free, well-ventilated and
contain an electric light in each room to get a warrant of
fitness under a trial which will determine whether the scheme
is extended to all rental properties.
Housing Minister Nick Smith launched the trial yesterday
which will evaluate 500 state houses and revealed the minimum
standards which the homes would have to reach. Two hundred of
the Housing New Zealand properties were in Auckland.
Each home would have to pass a 49-point checklist to get a
WoF every three years. They would have to be insulated and
dry, safe and secure, and contain essential amenities such as
bathroom and kitchen facilities.
Dr Smith said the trial would reveal whether housing WoFs
were practical and cost-effective. In six months, Housing New
Zealand would report how many homes were up to standard and
the cost of upgrading deficient properties.
Opposition parties said the trial was a "stunt" because the
real problem was in the private rental sector where thousands
of children lived in cold, damp homes.
"Most poor people live in private rentals. Only 4 per cent of
Kiwis live in state houses," said Labour's housing spokesman,
The Government completed an insulation upgrade of its state
housing stock last year.
Mr Twyford has drafted a bill that would set minimum
standards for insulation and heating for all rental
properties, which would have to be implemented by landlords
within five years. The private member's bill is due to come
before Parliament soon but is expected to fail because of
opposition from National, Act and United Future.
Dr Smith said it was important the Government got its own
housing stock in order before it decided whether to apply
warrants to the private and social housing sector. It was
necessary to be cautious about removing houses from the
rental market during a housing shortage.
- Isaac Davison