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Nick Smith announces trial scheme to test the quality of 500 Housing New Zealand homes

Nick Smith announces trial scheme to test the quality of 500 Housing New Zealand homes
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Housing Minister Nick Smith has kicked off a trial Warrant of Fitness scheme that will test out 500 Housing New Zealand homes at an expected cost of $500,000.

Some local councils and the ACC are already undertaking WOF tests in five cities to tackle New Zealand's "cold and damp" older housing stock.

In announcing the Government-led trial today, Smith said this Government was 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."

Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the WOF trial announcement was "a stunt" and Smith was refusing to tackle the real problem, "which is poor quality private sector rentals".

The trial WOF will check home quality in three main categories:

  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.

There are actually 49 specific criteria that will be assessed as part of the WOF trial.

The Government also released a question-and-answer paper on the new scheme.

Smith said the trial scheme would be applied to the 500 sample 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," Smith said.

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.

"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," Smith said.

"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."

Labour's Twyford said that today's announcement was "Nick Smith trying to look like he is doing something about the problem of unhealthy housing. But he refuses to do the very thing that is needed, and that is tackle the problem of damp, cold private rental houses". 

“Most poor people live in private rentals. Only 4% of Kiwis live in state houses."

Twyford said if National truly cared about fixing the poor quality of rental houses, they would have the chance to vote for his Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill which may come up for its first reading tonight in Parliament.

"My bill will set minimum standards for insulation and efficient heating for all rental properties including the private sector."

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Nick Smith - caught between a cognitive and a dissonance.


Nanny State vs we bloody well know we have to do something about our housing stock, given that we bloody well know what is coming.


But can't tell the punters. Because they'd shoot the messenger- as in, vote us out.


It's the right move, though. At that speed, it'll be overtaken by events, but right move it is.




This list seems OK for a housing WOF trial.   I think the important part is to insure it stays as a health and safety list and not let it grow over time into a want list for tenants.  If this happens it will push rents up to affordable levels for many.


Hello Peeps...

I keep a low profile these days but need to jump in on this one.

As one punter has already previously mentioned in an earlier post, there's room for one more on the list - Is it contaminated with 'P'.

A nightmare for any property owner, state or otherwise.

I would rather be in a P free home than in one that fits all the other 49 criteria but was a 'P Lab'

food for thought (like fresh healthly fruit cut up on the kitchen bench/ex P Lab)

President of Property



Hopefully this will eventually be tied in to private rentals via the Accommodation Supplement. Tenants moving into a new rental would not be able to get the supplement if the property does not have a WOF. Given that rents are closely tied to incomes, market rent will plummet for the bad properties; effectively they would become un-rentable until the landlord made them fit for purpose. This seems a pretty reasonable requirement given that $2 billion tax dollars spent on subsidising landlords via the Accommodation Supplement...!


I often wonder what a $2 billion per annum house building programme would look like. That would build 4000 decent houses a year by my calculations!