The Wellington City Council will lobby the Government to introduce mandatory standards for rental housing in 2015.
Over the last year the WCC has been trying to establish a rental house Warrant of Fitness programme along with local councils from around New Zealand.
The Council commissioned a field test that found that only six percent of the 144 houses surveyed passed Warrant of Fitness standards. Further trials were conducted by Housing New Zealand, which saw similarly high failure rates.
According to the WCC, the body is reliant on central Government support before any of its Warrant of Fitness initiatives can go ahead.
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Despite the Government’s claims in 2013 that it would work to implement a Warrant of Fitness programme, little progress has been made.
Housing Minister Nick Smith told Salient that the Government “remains open-minded about changes in standards [for rental homes] but is taking time to get the detail right” so as to not exacerbate the current housing crisis.
When asked if any alternative plans to raise housing standards were under consideration, Smith’s office did not reply.
Labour’s associate spokesperson for housing Poto Williams said that although her party supported moves by the WCC to implement minimum standards for rental housing, “it shouldn’t be up to local councils to make up for the Government’s lack of action.”
Williams criticised National for “dragging its heels” when it came to tackling the quality of rental housing in New Zealand.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown told Salient that “only the Government can make it mandatory, we hope they do but if they don’t then we’re in a good position to introduce a voluntary programme.”
Labour MP Phil Twyford’s Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (2015) was recently defeated in Parliament. The Bill proposed measures that would have ensured rental houses in New Zealand had minimum standards of warmth and insulation.
New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) President Rory McCourt claims that NZ First leader Winston Peters’ victory in the Northland by-election would now provide a Parliamentary majority in favour of the bill, which was voted down 60-60.
According to the latest census over one third of New Zealanders are are living in rental houses, with 23.8 per cent of households in the Wellington region paying some form of rent.