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Dunedin to Take Part in Housing WOF Project

Dunedin to Take Part in Housing WOF Project

Dunedin (Monday, 16 December 2013) – Some Dunedin rental properties will be part of a nationwide project which aims to lift housing standards.

Some 125 rental properties – 25 in each city – are to be given the once-over by home assessment experts in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

This is the first step in a nationwide project aimed at making rental housing safer to live in – especially for children, students and the elderly. The project starts with ‘warrant of fitness’ (WOF) field tests in the five cities, beginning in January next year.

The field tests will not result in the immediate issue of WOFs for the 125 houses as the aim is to test the assessment tool to ensure the credibility of the WOF scheme.

It is well known many of New Zealand’s older homes are cold and damp and are of a lower building standard than in many other OECD countries.

Mayor of Dunedin Dave Cull says, "We know that improving our city's housing quality is essential for Dunedin's economic and social welfare. This collaborative programme will help us develop appropriate ways to achieve that."

DCC Manager Events and Community Development Rebecca Williams says the DCC’s Social Wellbeing Strategy has identified affordable and healthy homes as one of its key strategic directions.

“It is exciting to be part of a team working towards the common goal of improving New Zealand’s housing stock. The pre-test of a warrant of fitness-type assessment tool is an important step towards this goal.”

The rental housing WOF field test involves the Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin councils, ACC, New Zealand Green Building Council and the University of Otago (Wellington).

The assessment tool was developed by the NZ Green Building Council and the University of Otago (Wellington) with feedback and input from the five Councils, ACC and other housing experts.

ACC's Programme Manager for Home Safety, Megan Nagel, says, "ACC is supporting the warrant of fitness trial as part of our focus on reducing injuries in and around the home.

"Environmental factors such as poor lighting and maintenance, slippery surfaces and steps and stairs contribute to many home injuries, so by helping to address factors such as these, a housing warrant of fitness will potentially support efforts to bring injury rates down."

Homestar Director at the New Zealand Green Building Council, Leigh Featherstone, says the support of ACC and the cities involved shows a strong joint commitment to improving local housing and health.

“We hope that by the end of this project there’ll be a working tool to rate rental standards nationally. This will make sure rental housing isn’t endangering the health of the families living in it. The long-term payoff will be better health, particularly of our kids and elderly.”

Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, at the University of Otago, Wellington, says, “The agreement to pre-test the rental warrant of fitness is an outstanding example of what can be achieved by local councils working together to improve rental housing quality for families and communities.

“Over a decade of robust research by the Housing and Health Research Programme has enabled us to develop a world-class rental housing WOF, which we are pre-testing before it’s rolled out more widely.”

ends

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