More calls for rentals to have WOF scheme

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 12:26 14/12/2012

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Christchurch's Tenants Protection Association has supported calls for a warrant of fitness scheme for rental homes, saying the plan is long overdue.

Manager Helen Gatonyi said the association had been pushing for such a scheme for decades and was pleased the idea was part of the Children's Commissioner's report into child poverty this week.

"If you really want to make a dent in child poverty and health statistics, providing what are basic living conditions in rental properties would go a long way toward achieving this," Gatonyi said.

Despite offers of generous home heating and insulation subsidies from the Government, few older rental properties were being insulated, she said.

The association was concerned that without action now, more decades could go by without the plan being introduced.

Gatonyi said that in Christchurch the large number of middle-class people displaced by the earthquakes now renting made the issue of basic standards more visible.

"It's a sad fact that as people who usually don't have to deal with the rental market go into it as consumers, the spotlight on standards is only going to get stronger."

A warrant of fitness for rental properties would be a good step for present and future tenants across New Zealand, she said.

Canterbury Property Investors Association president Lewis Donaldson said his group had discussed the warrant of fitness concept, but saw problems with it.

''While we think it's a good idea, perhaps it's not the most practical idea. As soon as landlords make these improvements for their tenants, rents go up, so they end up paying for it.''

He said most landlords provided homes to a good standard, and tenants now asked about insulation and heat pumps.

''If you don't have those things in a home, tenants don't really want it,'' he said.

Children's Commissioner Russell Wills recommended in his final report to the Government on child poverty that all rentals be required to pass a health and safety ''warrant of fitness".

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- The Press

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