Tag Archives: Rental housing

Dunedin housing

Leith Street houses IMG_8995 (1a)Leith Street student villas to Water of Leith

“Dunedin’s housing stock is older and colder than elsewhere in the country and being part of this trial ensures these issues are considered in a housing warrant of fitness.” –Rebecca Williams, DCC Events and Community Development

Dunedin City Council – Media Release
Housing WOF Trial Results Announced

This item was published on 15 May 2014

The results of a nationwide rental housing ‘warrant of fitness’ field trial have been released. More than 140 rental properties were given the once-over by home assessment experts in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin earlier this year. The pilot aimed to test whether draft WOF checklists and methods were practical for landlords, assessors and tenants. This is the first step in a collaborative project aimed at making rental housing safer, healthier and more energy efficient. The field trial has not resulted in the immediate issue of a WOF for each home, but it is an important step towards standardising the approach to ensure the credibility of any national WOF scheme.

“This collaborative programme has given us a lot of useful information about the assessment tool and what to do next. The trial has made it clear that a rental housing WOF system would be very useful, helping prospective tenants to make a call on whether a house is safe, healthy and energy efficient, making it warmer and more comfortable to live in. Hopefully, this would mean tenants would stay in their rental home for longer, which is good for both landlords and tenants. We are also grateful for the co-operation of the landlords and tenants who took part in this worthwhile project.” –Dave Cull, Mayor

The rental housing WOF field trial involved the Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin councils, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), the New Zealand Green Building Council and the University of Otago (Wellington). The trial tested a range of criteria that could potentially be included in a housing WOF. It aimed to identify aspects such as average assessment times and how to best communicate results to landlords and tenants. The assessment tool was developed by the NZ Green Building Council and the University of Otago, Wellington, with feedback and input from the five councils and ACC. The steering group behind the WOF survey trial says work is now underway to tweak the WOF checklist.

“We have received good feedback from landlords, tenants and the assessors and we are now going back to look at the checklist and criteria to make sure we have a robust and usable housing WOF for the rental market. The trial was really important so that we could gain an understanding about what is going to work for landlords, assessors and tenants. For a housing WOF to work it has to add value for the landlords and we needed to actually trial the draft WOF checklist and methodology.” –Julie Bennett, University of Otago (Wellington)

Key information gathered from the field trial and subsequent interviews includes:
● Landlords surveyed were supportive of a WOF in New Zealand.
● Landlords surveyed said that they were going to undertake work as a result of the new information from the draft WOF assessment.
● 36% of the homes that went through field trial would pass all of the draft WOF criteria with relatively minor fixes ($50 – $150 worth of materials/hardware estimated).

Examples of items that are attracting most of the attention during this testing phase are whether houses need a fixed form of heating, such as a heat pump or a wood burner, in order to ‘pass’ the WOF. Similarly, one of the requirements of the trial checklist was that all windows have stays for security and to prevent children falling out – however due to difficulties in assessing these, and landlords saying that they were not keen on security stays, the steering group has agreed to drop them from the checklist.

After the inspection system has been refined it will be presented to the participating councils for discussion. Most assessors who were interviewed after the trial said they were willing to make ‘easy’ fixes, while doing the inspections, to make homes compliant. The fixes included installing smoke alarms or smoke alarm batteries, changing light bulbs or adjusting the hot water temperature. Many homes still lack working smoke alarms – despite extensive and ongoing advertising – but the trial also found the overall condition of the homes that participated was good. About 94% of the homes inspected in the field trial did not pass at least one checklist criteria, but most dwellings failed on only a handful of the 31 inspection targets on the WOF checklist. About 36% of homes would pass all the criteria in the draft WOF checklist after just a few minor and inexpensive fixes.

In terms of the next steps for the project, the partners in the project aim to:
● Share the results of the trial, including reporting back to relevant councils.
● Get endorsement/agreement from participating councils on the next steps.
● Continue discussions with Central Government to work towards one WOF tool for NZ.
● Finalise checklists and methodologies.
● Investigate next steps for introduction of a voluntary WOF scheme.

Leith Street houses IMG_9518 (1a)Leith Street villas (1-2 storeys)

Facts and figures from the trial:
● 144 houses inspected.
● The inspection checklist looked at 31 items that covered a wide range of aspects ranging from weathertightness and insulation to ventilation, lighting, heating, condition of appliances and general building safety.
● House age ranged from 1880s to less than 10 years old
● Wide range of houses participated – from detached to apartments.
● Average time to inspect houses – 51 minutes.
● The majority of houses ‘failed’ on only a handful of checklist items.
● Top five checklist items that homes did not pass:
○ 40% of houses did not pass the water temperature check
○ 30% of bedrooms did not have a working smoke alarm within 3m of the bedroom
○ 31% of houses lacked code-compliant handrails and balustrades
○ 37% of houses did not pass the check for having a fixed form of heating
○ 38% of houses did not pass the security stays check

█ Full report at www.dunedin.govt.nz/rentalhousing-wof-pretest

Housing WOF Trial – associated information (PDF, 763 KB)

Contact DCC Manager Events and Community Development on 03 477 4000
DCC Link

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Dundas Street terrace housing IMG_9066 (1a)Dundas Street terraces

### ODT Online Fri, 16 May 2014
Trial shows value in rental housing Wof
By Timothy Brown
None of Dunedin’s houses will pass a rental warrant of fitness if the standards used during a recent trial of scheme are applied. The inspections, carried out by home assessment experts, looked at weather-tightness, insulation and ventilation, lighting, heating, condition of appliances and general building safety.
Read more

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Images by whatifdunedin (2010)

58 Comments

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Dunedin’s social housing need —they built a bastard stadium

State housing 1aDunedin civic leaders built a ‘bastard stadium’ instead of making the conscious decision to look after our most vulnerable citizens.

The increasing cost of private rental accommodation in Dunedin has seen the demand for social housing rise during the past six months, with Housing New Zealand housing one family a day during that time.

The amount of money people needed just to get in the front door of a private rental was out of reach for many families.
–Nicola Taylor, Anglican Family Support

### ODT Online Sun, 2 Mar 2014
State housing in demand
By Tim Miller – The Star
Unaffordable rental property in Dunedin is driving lower-income families into social housing, with one property manager saying the situation could get worse if rental properties are required to lift their standards.
Increased demand has seen the waiting list of families waiting for one of Dunedin’s 1451 state houses increase to 64.
Read more

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### radionz.co.nz Friday 28 February 2014
Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan
http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon
09:08 Revised statistics reveal true extent of elderly poverty
Roy Reid, president Grey Power New Zealand Federation; and Jonathan Boston, professor of public policy at Victoria University and co-chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty.
Audio | Download: Ogg   MP3 ( 23:33 )

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The Accommodation Supplement available to low income people and beneficiaries has not been raised for NINE YEARS.

This fact, of course, doesn’t and won’t stop upwardly mobile Dunedin landlords (many of them absentee) seeking capital gains and higher rents, while exercising tax avoidance under current legislation —there are insufficient casual, part-time and full-time jobs available in the city to service increasingly high rents (income poverty). With the result Dunedin renters in genuine need are being severely squeezed — this impacts on the health and wellbeing of individuals, couples and families, placing a long-term cost burden on the rest of society. Not surprisingly, the number of homeless people is rising. Meanwhile, the mayor, the council chief executive and friends are skooting off to China on junkets, in the time-honoured tradition of the Old Dunedin CARGO CULT.

Accommodation Supplement is a weekly payment which helps people with their rent, board or the cost of owning a home.

You may get an Accommodation Supplement if you:
• have accommodation costs
• are aged 16 years or more
• are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
• normally live in New Zealand and intend to stay here
• are not paying rent for a Housing New Zealand property.

It also depends on:
• how much you and your spouse or partner earn
• any money or assets you and your spouse or partner have.

How much you will get on the Accommodation Supplement will depend on:
• your income
• your assets
• your accommodation costs
• your family circumstances
• where you live.

For more information go to:
http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/individuals/a-z-benefits/accommodation-supplement.html

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Image: odt.co.nz – State Housing (re-imaged by whatifdunedin)

19 Comments

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