Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Housing WOF Trial Results Announced

Dunedin Thursday, 15 May 2014)

Housing WOF Trial Results Announced

The results of a nationwide rental housing ‘warrant of fitness’ field trial have been released.

More than 140 rental properties were given the once-over by home assessment experts in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin earlier this year. The pilot aimed to test whether draft WOF checklists and methods were practical for landlords, assessors and tenants.

This is the first step in a collaborative project aimed at making rental housing safer, healthier and more energy efficient.

The field trial has not resulted in the immediate issue of a WOF for each home, but it is an important step towards standardising the approach to ensure the credibility of any national WOF scheme.

Mayor of Dunedin Dave Cull says, “This collaborative programme has given us a lot of useful information about the assessment tool and what to do next. The trial has made it clear that a rental housing WOF system would be very useful, helping prospective tenants to make a call on whether a house is safe, healthy and energy efficient, making it warmer and more comfortable to live in. Hopefully, this would mean tenants would stay in their rental home for longer, which is good for both landlords and tenants.

“We are also grateful for the co-operation of the landlords and tenants who took part in this worthwhile project.”

DCC Manager Events and Community Development Rebecca Williams says, “Dunedin’s housing stock is older and colder than elsewhere in the country and being part of this trial ensures these issues are considered in a housing warrant of fitness.”

The rental housing WOF field trial involved the Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin councils, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), the New Zealand Green Building Council and the University of Otago (Wellington). The trial tested a range of criteria that could potentially be included in a housing WOF. It aimed to identify aspects such as average assessment times and how to best communicate results to landlords and tenants.

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 and ACC.

A spokesperson for the steering group behind the WOF survey trial, Dr Julie Bennett from the University of Otago (Wellington), says work is now underway to tweak the WOF checklist.

“We have received good feedback from landlords, tenants and the assessors and we are now going back to look at the checklist and criteria to make sure we have a robust and usable housing WOF for the rental market.

“The trial was really important so that we could gain an understanding about what is going to work for landlords, assessors and tenants. For a housing WOF to work it has to add value for the landlords and we needed to actually trial the draft WOF checklist and methodology.”

Key information gathered from the field trial and subsequent interviews includes:
- Landlords surveyed were supportive of a WOF in New Zealand.
- Landlords surveyed said that they were going to undertake work as a result of the new information from the draft WOF assessment.
- 36% of the homes that went through field trial would pass all of the draft WOF criteria with relatively minor fixes ($50 - $150 worth of materials/hardware estimated).

Examples of items that are attracting most of the attention during this testing phase are whether houses need a fixed form of heating, such as a heat pump or a wood burner, in order to ‘pass’ the WOF. Similarly, one of the requirements of the trial checklist was that all windows have stays for security and to prevent children falling out – however due to difficulties in assessing these, and landlords saying that they were not keen on security stays, the steering group has agreed to drop them from the checklist.

After the inspection system has been refined it will be presented to the participating councils for discussion.

Most assessors who were interviewed after the trial said they were willing to make ‘easy’ fixes, while doing the inspections, to make homes compliant. The fixes included installing smoke alarms or smoke alarm batteries, changing light bulbs or adjusting the hot water temperature.

Many homes still lack working smoke alarms – despite extensive and ongoing advertising – but the trial also found the overall condition of the homes that participated was good.

About 94% of the homes inspected in the field trial did not pass at least one checklist criteria, but most dwellings failed on only a handful of the 31 inspection targets on the WOF checklist. About 36% of homes would pass all the criteria in the draft WOF checklist after just a few minor and inexpensive fixes.

In terms of the next steps for the project, the partners in the project aim to:
• Share the results of the trial, including reporting back to relevant councils.
• Get endorsement/agreement from participating councils on the next steps.
• Continue discussions with Central Government to work towards one WOF tool for NZ.
• Finalise checklists and methodologies.
• Investigate next steps for introduction of a voluntary WOF scheme.

Facts and figures from the trial:
• 144 houses inspected.
• The inspection checklist looked at 31 items that covered a wide range of aspects ranging from weathertightness and insulation to ventilation, lighting, heating, condition of appliances and general building safety.
• House age ranged from 1880s to less than 10 years old.
• Wide range of houses participated – from detached to apartments.
• Average time to inspect houses – 51 minutes.
• The majority of houses ‘failed’ on only a handful of checklist items.
• Top five checklist items that homes did not pass:
o 40% of houses did not pass the water temperature check
o 30% of bedrooms did not have a working smoke alarm within 3m of the bedroom
o 31% of houses lacked code-compliant handrails and balustrades
o 37% of houses did not pass the check for having a fixed form of heating

o 38% of houses did not pass the security stays check

A copy of the full report is available at www.dunedin.govt.nz/rentalhousing-wof-pretest.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Labour: Little Announces New Shadow Cabinet

“Labour had an impressive intake of fresh faces after last year’s election and newest MPs have now had a year to show what they’re made of. This reshuffle rewards hard work and continues my drive to renew our Caucus line up." More>>


Because Reasons: Someone Reckons David Seymour Is Politician Of The Year

Trans Tasman's 11th annual Roll Call has thrown a curve ball this year, ignoring the likes of John Key, Bill English, and Winston Peters to pick its politician of the year from the ranks of the new generation. More>>


Whaling: NZ Deeply Disappointed By Japan's Decision

“New Zealand is strongly opposed to whaling in the Southern Ocean. We call on Japan to take heed of the 2014 International Court of Justice decision and international scientific advice concerning their whaling activities.” More>>


Relevant Consents Gained: Government Unveils RMA Reform Package

The government has formally hauled down the flag on its attempts to alter the balance of environmental and economic priorities in the Resource Management Act, unveiling a 180-page Resource Legislation Amendment Bill containing reforms that have been largely endorsed by most political parties. More>>


Closing Schools And Such: Interim Redcliffs Decision Announced

“While the school’s board has argued that circumstances that could give rise to potential disruption are extremely unlikely, advice from technical experts has shown these concerns cannot be ruled out." More>>


Jane Kelsey: High Court Can’t Make Groser Provide TPPA Information Faster

‘This week we went back to court to challenge Trade Minister Groser’s stalling tactics over the release of information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations, following a High Court order that he reconsider the Official Information Act request I made last January’, said University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, first applicant in the case. More>>

Werewolf 58: No Climate For Change

The last time the global community tried to take collective action on climate change the world’s leaders finally came to agree that every not-too-onerous effort should be made to hold global warming to 2°C above the pre-industrial average. At Paris, all 150 participant countries nations will have put forward their pledges... On the information available, New Zealand's is the second weakest contribution of any nation in the developed world. More>>


Lambton Quay Shutdown: Object Was Made To Look Like Bomb

Police cordoned off part of Lambton Quay Wednesday afternoon, saying that a suspicious package had been found. Buildings were evacuated and buses were detoured. The army’s explosive ordnance disposal unit was brought to the Quay. More>>


Public Sector Still Shrinking: Record Low Number Of 'Backroom Bureaucrats'

Ongoing restraint in the public sector and a focus on better frontline services has seen a further reduction in the number of core Government employees, State Services Minister Paula Bennett says. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news