94% of rental properties fail WOF trial

Only 6% of the homes tested as part of a trial of rental warrant of fitness standards passed every item on the checklist, it has been revealed.

Thursday, May 15th 2014, 12:00AM 1 Comment

by The Landlord

Another third would pass with minor fixes.

The initial results of local coucils' trials of a housing WOF scheme have been revealed today.

More than 140 rental properties were checked by home assessment experts in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin earlier this year.

The pilot aimed to test whether draft warrant of fitness (WOF) checklists and methodologies were practical for landlords, assessors and tenants.

The rental housing WOF field trial involved the Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin councils, The trial tested a range of criteria that could potentially be included in a housing WOF. It aimed to identify aspects such as average assessment times and how to best communicate results to landlords and tenants.

A spokesperson for the steering group behind the WOF survey trial, Julie Bennett from the University of Otago Wellington, said work was under way to tweak the WOF checklist. “We have received good feedback from landlords, tenants and the assessors and we are now going back to look at the checklist and criteria to make sure we have a robust and usable housing WOF for the rental market.”

Bennett said landlords, assessors and tenants provided valuable information during the field trial.

Items attracting most of the attention during this testing phase included whether houses need a fixed form of heating such as a heat pump or a wood burner in order to pass the WOF.

After the inspection system has been refined it will be presented to the participating councils for discussion.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said the trial underscored that a rental housing WOF system would be highly useful to potential renters. “The work so far shows real progress is possible in our efforts to ensure tenants have healthy and safe homes and that landlords maintain good minimum standards. I look forward to the next stage where we can apply this initiative more broadly, particularly in the most vulnerable communities."

Most assessors who were interviewed after the trial said they were willing to make easy fixes, while doing the inspections, to make homes compliant. The fixes included installing smoke alarms or smoke alarm batteries, changing lightbulbs or adjusting hot-water temperature.

Around 94% of the homes inspected in the field trial did not pass at least one checklist criteria, but most dwellings failed on only a handful of the 31 inspection targets on the WOF checklist. Around 36% of homes would pass all the criteria in the draft WOF checklist after just a few minor and inexpensive fixes. The top five items the homes did not pass were water temperature (40%), smoke alarms within 3m of a bedroom (30%), code-compliant handrails and balustrades (31%), a fixed form of heating (37%), security stays (38%).

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Comments from our readers

On 16 July 2014 at 2:37 pm Bryan Jacobsen said:
We have under taken 8 WOF checks in our area with underfloor and ceiling insulation, water temperature, heating of the house, ventilation to all wet areas, driers not vented to out side, no smoke alarms,no lagging to subfloor pipes,no insulation to HWC. All homes failed the WOF check

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