Housing Warrant of Fitness debate heats up

The debate around a Warrant of Fitness (WOF) system for houses is heating up, following a recent call from the Real Estate Institute and the introduction of a number of new projects.

Home sweet home in orange embroidered on a white piece of tissue Earlier this month, Real Estate Institute Chief Executive Helen Sullivan called for a warrant of fitness system for properties, which will include a test for methamphetamine, to help reassure home buyers. In The Press, Helen stated that meth-tainted houses could rival leaky homes as a problem, and that labs being discovered were only the tip of the iceberg.

A number of WOF initiatives, for rental houses, have kicked off early this year, and a healthy homes bill is up for debate in parliament, so it looks like the debates are hotting up.

Update on Warrant of Fitness projects

WOF rental tests

A nationwide warrant of fitness (WOF) project aimed at making rental housing safer to live in, kicked off this month, with WOF field tests being held in five New Zealand cities, including Auckland.

The field tests, which will test rental properties against 28 measures including mould and sanitation, will run throughout January and February 2014, with results due to be published in March.

The project involves the Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin councils, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), New Zealand Green Building Council and the University of Otago (Wellington). For more information see the Auckland Council website.

WOF tool for Housing New Zealand properties

In a separate project, the Government is continuing to develop a Warrant of Fitness tool, which will be trialled on Housing New Zealand properties from early 2014. At this stage, no decisions have been made on whether it may be applied beyond Housing New Zealand properties.

Otago company implements WOF system

Late last year, Otago Property Management implemented a warrant of fitness rating system for Dunedin rental properties, which was believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill

The Government will soon be debating legal requirements for landlords, after the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill was drawn from the ballot in October last year. Labour MP Phil Twyford's bill, would require all rental housing (state, social and private sector) to meet minimum health and safety standards in regard to insulation and effective non-polluting heating. 

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