'Warrant of Fitness' trial for rental housing

17:51, Dec 16 2013
Glenn Livingstone
POSITIVE STEP: Christchurch city councillor Glenn Livingstone says a warrant of fitness trial for rental housing is good news for tenants.

A nationwide trial to make rental housing safer will include a batch of Christchurch properties.

Twenty-five Christchurch City Council houses will be evaluated by home assessment experts in the national rental housing "Warrant of Fitness'' trial that starts next month and runs until the end of February.

The trial will not see Warrants of Fitnesses (WOFs) immediately issued for the selected houses but is seen as an important step towards ensuring the credibility of the planned scheme.

Council Housing Committee chairman Glenn Livingstone said the trial was good news for tenants, as it marked a significant first step in identifying those rentals which were not fit-for-purpose.

"It's unfortunately well-known that much of New Zealand's older housing is cold and damp and of lower build standards than many other OECD countries. It's also well-known that poor housing conditions can contribute to more severe asthma, rheumatic fever and other housing-related illnesses.''

Livingstone said the trial was a positive step towards addressing poor-performing rental housing and supporting warm, energy-efficient and healthier housing for tenants.

The trial would cover visible safety issues, including handrails, electricity safety as well as health risks like mould, leaks and adequate insulation.

Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) home safety programme manager Megan Nagel said the trial was part of its focus on cutting injuries in and around the home. 

"Environmental factors such as poor lighting and maintenance, slippery surfaces and steps and stairs contribute to many home injuries, so, by helping to address factors such as these, a housing warrant of fitness will potentially support efforts to bring injury rates down." 

Some 125 rental properties - 25 in each participating city of Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin - are to be evaluated by home assessment experts.

Trial results will be published in March.

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