Greens proposed WOF scheme to improve conditions for renters
By Anonymous on September 10, 2014 has reported (8/09/2014) on the Green Party's Warrant of Fitness (WOF) scheme and how it will affect the rental market.
Green Party co-leader, Metiria Turei, is focused on improving conditions for a million renters in NZ. Labour has also promised a WOF scheme but Ms Turei said that it was a "lot softer." The Greens would be willing to work with Labour in a coalition arrangement working towards a stronger policy.
Current laws do not require landlords to provide hot or cold water or a functioning toilet. Under a WOF, rental houses would have to meet a minimum standard for home insulation, heating, toilets, bath or shower, electricity, weather-tightness and safe wiring.
A recent "Old, Cold and Costly" survey done by the Presbyterian Support Otago revealed that only 23 per cent of low-income housing passed a reasonable rental standard, down 13 per cent since 2004.
Ms Turei says that the WOF professional standards will discourage unprofessional landlords from being in the market or cause them to leave the rental business. The WOF would run for the first two years as a voluntary scheme and then become compulsory after that.
As prices of houses become more expensive, the demand for rentals increase. Ms Turei said that the Greens would like to see more affordable housing. She was disappointed at the quality of low-cost private rental housing in Dunedin.
Andrew King from the New Zealand Property Investors' Federation was concerned that the cost of a WOF would cause a rent rise for tenants. He said that only 7 per cent of their phone calls from tenants related to the condition of their rental properties.
Mr King also had concerns that higher rents could also lead to overcrowding as families move in with each other. He would prefer to see funds directed specifically to those in need with target items such as home insulation, education on how to keep homes ventilated and subsidise heating covered instead of a blanket WOF.