New Zealand housing, a sorry tale

The poor quality of many New Zealand homes was a result of people wanting to make a quick profit, and [home owner] Eddie van Uden hoped a rating would eventually be attached to homes like a warrant of fitness.

### 5:30 AM Sunday Dec 26, 2010
NZ: Land of unhealthy homes
By Andre Hueber
Three out of four New Zealand homes are failing to meet new energy-efficiency standards, endangering the health of the families who live in them. The New Zealand Green Building Council – which represents builders, developers and government agencies – has set up a measurement system that rates houses on their energy efficiency. Of the first 3300 homes rated, most are cold, damp and unhealthy.
Read more

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Town planning, Urban design

2 responses to “New Zealand housing, a sorry tale

  1. 16.11.13 Property WoF system launched

    10.12.13 Housing Wof item remains non-public

    17.12.13 Dunedin homes part of ‘Wof’ trial

    18.12.13 Making houses homes


    19.12.13 Councillor wary of rental property ‘Wof’ testing
    It is good that a tool to assess whether rental properties will pass or fail a housing warrant of fitness will be tested to expose its flaws, but she will not be volunteering to take part, rental-property owner and Dunedin city councillor Hilary Calvert says. Council staff and Mayor Dave Cull also have reservations about the test, but said it was the only way to determine whether the assessment tool developed was practical. The tool, a warrant of fitness (Wof) checklist to be filled in by a trained assessor – in Dunedin’s case assessors from outside the council – will be tested on 25 Dunedin rental properties in January and February.

  2. {Comment moved here from another thread – relevance. -Eds}

    Rob Hamlin
    Submitted on 2013/12/24 at 9:26 am

    This was posted at McP, but not published on line. Maybe the DCC already have a budget for it?

    I personally have no issues with a warrant of fitness for properties that are let out on a commercial basis. While rentals are often compared with their return to investments elsewhere, it is often overlooked that, the capital values that are quoted are rarely seriously at risk and often it grows of its own accord. As far as I know no residential landlord in this country has had their principal legally confiscated in the manner that occurred with the miserable investors in South Canterbury Finance and others like it.

    Any landlord who invested in my own home as a renter in 2000 would have seen their capital grow by nearly 300%, to c. $300,000 and that’s not including the rent, which would have been rising an additional $150,000 in the same period. If I had been a landlord this house, including mortgage and maintenance/improvements would have cost me around $200,000 since buying it in 2000, and thus the profit on this one residence would be around $250,000 in ten years. This also does not include depreciation and other related significant ‘business costs’ that have been accessible to landlords over this period as tax write-offs. Many similar properties around my own are renters, so I would not be piping my eye too much about the financial travails of established landlords in this town.

    I do not think that all landlords are scoundrels, although a minority undoubtedly are. I can remember my incredulity at being offered a house by a recognised real estate agency at a stiff rental that had AN EARTH FLOOR when I arrived in this town as a member of University staff in 1992. The house had had absolutely nothing spent internally on it since the 1940s in my estimation and the exterior might have received a single coat of paint in that period. The place was filthy and even had a large dead bird rotting in the fireplace.

    Where I do have issues with these compulsory WOFS is their potential for abuse by the local territorlal authorities and those associated with providing remedial services for WOF failures. The WOF if it becomes compulsory has the potential to be a ‘nice little earner’ for the DCC or whoever gets the right to levy this compulsory charge. It will be especially attractive for those authorities who are financially stretched as our own council is. Building consents in this town are already out of line with other authorities, so I would expect the DCC charge to be pretty hefty if it gets the green light to ‘stick it to’ these landlords.

    Shortly after the authorities’ realisation that it could be a nice little earner I would expect will come the trades’ similar realisation that the spin-offs in the form of compulsory remediation could be a nice little earner too. Plumbing, electrics, double glazing and in-wall insulation are all expensive. They are likely to become even more so they become compulsory. It may be even more so if the nature of the remediation and the pool of suppliers of it is heavily constrained as part of the process. I have no issue with requiring that electrics be worked on by licensed trades. However, the hourly rate charged by the last electrician that I was compelled to use in my house was nearly double my own professional hourly rate – and he was a busy man.

    I suppose that private owners will sit back and say ‘serves them (the landlords) right’. That will be all very comfortable unless the parties above realise that the real bonanza lies in the private owner-occupier sector. ‘Public safety’ might well be cited as the motivator for the first real move into this direction. Money is likely to be the underlying motivation. The eventual outcome for those currently comfortable private residential owners might be as follows:

    “Dear Mrs Jones, the Council recently inspected your property as part of the annual private residential WOF process (large bill). We have found the following faults (long list). These will have to be rectified, inspected and approved (additional large charge) before (6 months). Otherwise you will have to vacate the premises.

    A list of approved providers for each fault is given below (series of shorter lists). You must use one of these approved providers to remediate the fault in order to achieve compliance upon inspection. If you are not in a position to pay for these remedial works, then the Council operates a secured multi-option loan facility partnership with (Sunshine Bank of the Cayman Islands). If there is sufficient equity in your residence, this loan can make funds available to you using the security of your property’s value. If there is insufficient equity, then a higher interest rate may be charged.”

    “Impossible in a civilized country” you might say. I sincerely hope that it is. However, it’s worth noting that we all drive round in perfectly usable and relatively cheap Japanese cars as an outcome of a similarly vicious WOF system operating in Japan that expensively (for their owners) writes off these perfectly usable cars way within their useful lifetime. I do not think that ‘safety’ is the real motivation behind this system that writes off what we consider to be perfectly safe vehicles. – after all, the outcome of a WOF write off is a new vehicle sale in Japan, and our own authorities are happy to see the supposed safety rejects imported into this country in large numbers. The same state of pleasure cannot really be assumed for the manufacturers.

    Christchurch has also shown us that this government is perfectly happy to eject citizens of this country from their own homes in large numbers, and with no particular care as to where they end up on the basis of residential safety compliance and other property related bureaucratic issues. The same incident shows that they are prepared to hand over remediation to very large private monopolies greatly to the fiscal benefit of owners of said monopolies, so precedents abound.

    So, a compulsory residential WOF system – Sure: Just as long as it’s only for commercial rentals, and its costs to these parties that are not directly related to the required reasonable remediations are also reasonable and it leaves those undertaking them with reasonable freedom of choice with regard to the nature of the remediation and the provider of same. I have my doubts as to whether that will be the eventual outcome. At the end of the day it’s the tenant that pays, so it behooves us to make sure that the benefits of such a system to them outweigh its costs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s