Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Fit to rent? Housing WOF trial results released

Fit to rent? Housing WOF trial results released

The results of a rental housing ‘warrant of fitness’ field trial have been released. This is the first step in a collaborative project aimed at making rental housing safer, healthier and more energy efficient.

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 methodologies were practical for landlords, assessors and tenants.

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

The rental housing WOF field trial involved the Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin councils, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), 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 under way 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.”

Dr Bennett said landlords, assessors and tenants provided valuable information during the field trial. “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.”

Some of the key information gathered from the field trial and subsequent interviews are:

- 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 perhaps).

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.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says that, with a third of New Zealanders living in rental accommodation, the trial has made it clear that basic measures such as insulation and good heating are still lacking in many rental properties. “Warm, dry, safe housing is a fundamental need, especially for vulnerable people, young and old. Any WOF tool will need to be accompanied by continuing support for insulation of older properties. I look forward to continuing to work with partners including tenants, landlords, housing experts, universities, local and central government.

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 lightbulbs or adjusting 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.

Around 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. Around 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 (see list).

• Age range 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
o 30% of bedrooms did not have a working smoke alarm within 3 metres of the bedroom
o
o 31% of houses lacked code-compliant handrails and balustrades
o
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
ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

Gordon Campbell: On Where Greece Goes From Here

As one candid British commentator tried to come to grips with why his confident prediction of a “Yes” vote in Greece has failed so resoundingly, he said that he’d made that prediction from his own viewpoint – as someone with savings to protect. But most Greek people, he suddenly realised, didn’t have that concern anymore after five years of austerity. Duh. More>>

ALSO:

Post-Cabinet Presser: EQC Reform, Greece & Surplus Stimulation

Prime Minister John key discussed proposals for reform of the EQC act and the Greek economic crisis at a press conference in Wellington. More>>

ALSO:

GCSB/NZSIS: Intelligence And Security Reviewers Seek Public’s Views

“We are seeking public submissions to help us determine what issues to focus on during the review,” says Sir Michael Cullen. “We want to hear your views on what the GCSB and NZSIS should be doing to protect New Zealand and how they should do it.” More>>

Education: Schools Funded To Trial Innovative Approaches

Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced the successful applicants for a new $10 million fund to encourage innovative teaching practices. “I’m delighted with the quality of the 39 projects that have won funding in the first round of the Teacher-led Innovation Fund worth a total of about $2.6 million,” says Ms Parata. More>>

ALSO:

Generation Zero: Skypath Granted Resource Consent

Generation Zero is delighted and relieved that the ‘Skypath’ walking and cycling addition to the Harbour Bridge has been granted resource consent. More>>

ALSO:

Housing: Two New Auckland Special Housing Areas

Two new greenfield Special Housing Areas (SHAs) that will provide up to 1800 new homes in Auckland have been announced today by Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith and Mayor Len Brown. More>>

ALSO:

Royals: The Prince Of Wales And Duchess Of Cornwall To Visit

Prime Minister John Key welcomes today’s announcement that the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will visit New Zealand in November. This will be the second joint visit for Their Royal Highnesses to New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

Tracey Martin Replaced: Ron Mark Is New New Zealand First Deputy Leader

Clayton Mitchell was the successful candidate for the Associate Whip position. Winston Peters was re-elected as Leader by the Caucus. Ron Mark was elected as the Deputy Leader with effect from 10am, Friday, 3rd July. More>>

ALSO:

Rebuild Rebrand: "Regenerate Christchurch" To Replace CERA

The regeneration of Christchurch will be the city’s focus for the next five years as local leadership progressively takes control of the rebuild, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
More RSS  RSS
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news