Push to set up rentals register

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014

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A push to improve the quality of Christchurch rental properties could see a city-wide register set up and landlords encouraged to obtain warrants of fitness (WoF) for their properties.

The Christchurch City Council is involved in a national rental housing warrant of fitness (WoF) trial aimed at identifying whether properties meet basic housing quality standards and are safe to live in - particularly for children, students and the elderly.

Council housing committee chairman Glenn Livingstone said yesterday if the trial was successful he would be pushing to get the council's entire social housing stock warranted, as well as private sector rentals.

In the volatile post-quake rental housing market, it would be a positive step toward addressing poor-performing rental housing and supporting warm, energy-efficient and healthier housing for tenants, he said.

"It's about identifying the properties that are suitable and fit to live in. I would hope landlords would come on board and do it."

Livingstone said it was particularly important to have housing WoFs in Christchurch because some of the rentals on the market were quake-damaged properties investors had snapped up at low prices in order to make a quick buck and were not necessarily fit for purpose.

He is also pushing for a register of rental houses to be set up in Christchurch - something the Tenancy Protection Association (TPA) has been advocating for years.

The register would identify where the rental properties were in the city, the type of accommodation on offer, and potentially whether it met the basic minimum standards.

Such registers are common overseas and are usually administered by the local authority.

"The council has the ability to resource it," Livingstone said.

TPA spokeswoman Helen Gatonyi said it was critical that such a register was set up because it was impossible to gauge the exact makeup of the rental market stock in Christchurch, which made it difficult to pinpoint where the gaps were. "We need to know accurate numbers."

Landlords had nothing to fear from the register or the WoF system, she said.

"We are talking about basic, decent housing here and that is not a huge expectation to have. All good landlords would support that," Gatonyi said.

Livingstone said he was determined to make progress on both the register and the WoF system this year and would be bringing both issues to the housing committee as soon as possible.

CRITERIA

The nationwide housing warrant of fitness trial is assessing houses against 27 criteria, including:

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  • Is there a functional toilet?
  • Is the house reasonably free of visible mould?
  • Is the house insulated?
  • Is the house weathertight?
  • Does the house appear to be structurally sound? 
  • Does the house have adequate working smoke alarms?
  • Are the power outlets and light switches safe and in good working order? 

- The Press

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