Wellington City Council has announced the launch of the voluntary Rental Warrant of Fitness for minimum housing requirements.
“We want to lift rental standards in our city and make better accommodation available for people. Every Wellingtonian deserves a warm, dry home,” says Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.
The Rental Warrant of Fitness is a first in New Zealand. Wellington City Council partnered alongside public health experts from the University of Otago to create the questions that landlords can go through to see if their investment property meets the minimum standards.
Mayor Lester says “We’re partnering with the University and will be launching an app that will allow tenants and landlords to check their house against minimum health standards designed by experts, and allow landlords to request a full inspection by a professional to be certified as meeting the standard”.
The idea behind the Warrant of Fitness is not only to improve the quality of rental housing but also give landlords the chance to promote their investment as being warm, safe and dry.
Most of the questions in the Warrant of Fitness appear to be reasonable but some are dependent on the human factor. For example, one of the questions asks whether the home is free of visible mould and that if there is, that it is less than an A4 sheet of paper. Mould is actually a joint tenant and landlord responsibility as without physically ventilating the property, mould will grow. This is particularly noticeable in the winter months when heating is used, moisture builds up and mould spores can grow in areas such as wardrobes, bathrooms, on the wall behind beds and other areas of the home.
How does the assessment work?
Landlords (or tenants with their landlord’s permission) can book a Rental Warrant of Fitness inspection on Wellington City Council’s website from August 28. Landlords may wish to ask their Property Managers to assist them with obtaining the warrant as a point of difference for their investment property.
Wellington City Council has advised that they are partnering with building inspectors who will attend and carry out an assessment which will take around an hour to complete.
At that assessment, the house will either pass or fail. A report will be emailed to the owner of the property (or their property manager). If the house fails the assessment the owner will have 6 months to meet the criteria and re-book a follow up assessment for free. The Rental Warrant of Fitness is valid for three years.
How much does the Rental Warrant of Fitness inspection cost?
The cost is $250. If the house does not pass there is a six month window to get the work done and have a re-assessment done for free.
While the Warrant of Fitness is being run through Wellington City Council, the questions are reasonable for any landlord to use as a baseline to check in their investment or use the questions for any improvements.