Trial Housing Warrant of Fitness for 500 NZ homes
By Anonymous on February 20, 2014 has reported (19/02/2014) on the start of a trial Warrant of Fitness scheme on Housing in New Zealand.

Dr Nick Smith, the Housing Minister, said that the Government is committed to improving health, social and educational outcomes by improving the quality of housing in New Zealand. After completing the job of providing home insulation to every state house last year, the next step is to develop a practical minimum standard to be applied to state houses.

The trial Warrant of Fitness aims to check the quality of homes in three areas. The first checks insulation and dampness. Home insulation checks include both underfloor and ceiling insulation. Ventilation and leaks in the cladding or roof are also checked to ensure that the house is dry. The second area of focus is on safety and security where items such as handrails and smoke alarms are checked. The third area is essential amenities. Power points, food preparation facilities, toilet and the bath/shower are assessed.

A Technical Advisory Group will provide on-going information on the detailed assessment criteria. This group includes representatives from Local Government New Zealand, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, Building Research Association of New Zealand, Master Builders, Beacon Pathway, district health boards, the Accident Compensation Corporation and the New Zealand Property Investors Federation.

Dr Smith says that 500 Housing New Zealand Homes will be part of the trial between now and July. He expects that a report later this year will outline the number of houses that pass and what deficiencies are identified. A timetable and cost to bring the houses up to the new standard will also be drawn up. Initially 5000 earthquake-damaged homes in Christchurch will be excluded from the scheme until their scheduled repair work is complete.

It is hoped that the new scheme will provide a far more robust reporting regime on the quality of New Zealand's state houses. The plan will be to reassess every Housing New Zealand home on a three-year basis.

The Government has not yet made any decision about the wider application of the Warrant of Fitness to the private rental market or other social housing providers. For now they want to focus on state housing and ensure that the scheme is both practical and cost effective.