Rental property warrant of fitness a costly mistake

The Wellington City Council has a voluntary rental property warrant of fitness which they say “gives landlords the chance to promote their property as being warm and dry, and gives prospective renters an assurance that the home they are looking to live in meets the standard”.

Most owners are not silly. Only two owners have so far paid the council fee of $250, to get a WOF that expires in a couple of years to certify that there is hot and cold running water, adequate insulation and heating, weather-tightness, and working smoke alarms.

Both owners and tenants know that everyone can readily verify on viewing the property whether it meets those requirements.

The question that is whether there any purpose for such a WOF other than virtue-signalling, which the Wellington council appears to major in.

After heavy pressure from the former Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills and Philippa Howden-Chapman of Otago University, the Housing Minister Nick Smith of the National-led Government of 2008-2017 appeared to think a WOF was a good idea.

Fortunately for owners, officials in the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment appeared to disagree. Government documents acquired under the Official Information Act revealed that the academic studies used to justify a WOF provided little evidential support.

It is worthwhile checking the research papers cited in the documents to see whether the references cited as supporting various recommendations actually support or even discuss the issue mentioned in recommendations.

The report Rental property warrant of fitness a costly mistake (See here) shows that the evidence used to support a WOF regime shows that ill health is more to do with how people live in houses and not the condition of the houses.

The report was first published at the New Zealand Centre For Political Research in July 2014.

Download the report here: WOF Report (1)revised