Housing WOF trial gets underwayHousing
Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced the start of a trial Warrant of Fitness scheme on Housing New Zealand homes.
“This Government is committed to improving the quality of housing to help achieve our goals of better social, health and educational outcomes for New Zealanders. Our first step was to insulate every state house that could be insulated. This was completed last year. The next step is developing a practical minimum standard and applying this to our state houses,” Dr Smith says.
“The success of a housing Warrant of Fitness depends on getting the detail right. It needs to be practical so that it can be applied to the thousands of houses across New Zealand that have been built with different styles and technologies over the last century. We need to be cautious of removing houses from the rental market when there is a shortage. We also need to ensure that the benefits of the Warrant of Fitness standard exceed the costs, because housing affordability is a significant issue.
“The trial Warrant of Fitness checks the quality of homes in respect of three areas:
1. Insulated and dry: including ceiling and under floor insulation, ventilation and no obvious leaks in the roof or cladding;
2. Safe and secure: including for example smoke alarms, handrails on stairs;
3. Essential amenities: including for example functioning power points, food preparation facilities, and a functioning bath/shower and toilet.
“A Technical Advisory Group has been established with representatives from the Building Research Association of New Zealand, Local Government New Zealand, Master Builders, the New Zealand Property Investors Federation, district health boards, the Accident Compensation Corporation, Beacon Pathway, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. The group will provide on-going advice on the detailed assessment criteria.
“This trial scheme is to be applied to a sample of 500 Housing New Zealand homes between now and July. It is intended that the detailed criteria will be refined with experience. I am expecting Housing New Zealand to report later this year on the number of houses that pass, the deficiencies that have been identified in their housing stock, and a realistic timetable and cost to bring all houses up to the new standard. The results from the sample of 500 will also allow us to determine the proportion of Housing New Zealand’s houses that would meet the standard.
“The plan is to then assess every Housing New Zealand home on a rolling three-year basis. We will initially exclude the 5000 earthquake-damaged homes in Christchurch until the scheduled repair work on them is complete. This new scheme will provide a far more robust reporting regime on the quality of our state houses.
“The Government has not made any decisions about the wider application of the Warrant of Fitness to other social housing providers or the private rental market. Our first duty is to ensure our own house is in order. We also want to test the trial scheme to ensure it is practical and cost effective.”