Rental house WOF trial to begin

Last updated 13:53 16/12/2013

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A trial project aimed at making rental housing safer to live in is set to start next month in Wellington.

Field trials of the new building ''warrant of fitness'' scheme will be conducted on 125 houses in Wellington, Auckland, Tauranga, Christchurch and Dunedin.

The project has been pioneered by the University of Otago (Wellington) housing and and health research programme.

Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman said the WOF checks, which would take about an hour, would assess a home's warmth, dryness, mould and dampness, injury risk, sanitation, basic state-of-repair and basic living needs.

The field test will start in January and run through to the end of February. The results will be published in March.

New Zealand housing has been found to be of a lower quality than most OECD countries. Researchers have found that private rental housing is in poorer condition than social housing or owner-occupied houses.

Studies have also found that substandard housing is seriously damaging health and that children from low income families, Maori and Pacific people are most affected.

Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown, who promoted the scheme in her election campaign, said ''too many people live in cold, damp housing."

Buildings portfolio leader Iona Pannett said the WOF would benefit landlords and tenants.

"Landlords will be able to attract good tenants more easily and renters will be given information on whether a property meets a good standard or not before they sign on the dotted line."

The trial is being supported by the NZ Green Building Council, city councils and ACC.

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- The Dominion Post

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