Landlord: WOF plan too hasty
It’s new, it’s clean and it’s only seven years old – but it failed the Wellington City Council’s new rental warrant of fitness test.
The house’s owner, one of the two Wellington landlords to test drive the standard, says the council’s own inspection needs a closer look.
Financial adviser Joseph Williams’ property failed, even though it passed a basic council inspection in 2011.
In August, the council unanimously accepted the scheme, making it the first council in New Zealand to do so.
The council maintains that its inspection was adequate and conducted by independent and experienced home performance experts.
However, Williams said he felt councillors ‘‘rushed in to the decision’’ and questioned its reliability.
Williams paid $250 for the inspection, and failed because his porch light was not working, and some window fittings needed security stays.
Williams said the person who inspected his property, who was from the Sustainability Trust, may have not even been properly qualified to make the calls.
‘‘I don’t know how they’re trained and what qualifications they have.’’
Like a car, the rental standard could be enforced by central government to make it credible, he said.
Williams said he believed the rental warrant of fitness scheme had good intentions, was good for landlords, and hoped it would be made compulsory.
‘‘But it needs to be tested better.’’
Williams said he has 10 rental properties in Wellington, and he wanted all of them to meet the new standard.
His Johnsonville property, which failed, had passed all council inspections in 2011.
‘‘If this can fail, then what about all the other properties [in Wellington]?’’
The report was poorly written and had spelling errors, he said.
Council spokeswoman Victoria Barton-Chapple said the Sustainability Trust, which conducts the council’s rental WOF inspections, were ‘‘independent and experienced home performance experts’’.
‘‘Every inspector conducting rental WOF inspections has completed training specifically for the rental WOF.’’
Councillors were not ‘‘rushed’’ in to the approval of the scheme, she said.
‘‘Supporting this voluntary rollout is the first step towards developing a Wellington Housing Standard.’’
Information from the pilot’s uptake, criteria and implementation would form a draft Wellington City Housing Quality Standard for councillors to consider.
‘‘[It] will set a measure for homes that incorporates both personal health and earthquake resilience,’’ she said.
‘‘This standard will be designed specifically for our city.’’
Sustainability Trust acting chief executive Ewan Gebbie said it had ‘‘a couple of hiccups" when the WOF was launched, which were resolved.
‘‘This was an inconvenience to Mr Williams though, so for that reason we refunded him the WOF fee,’’ Gebbie said.
‘‘We can reassess the home within six months for free, and we’re happy to do that.’’
The trust had three experienced home energy and insulation assessors.
They did a one-day training course with the University of Otago for the scheme, he said.
‘‘There is an auditing and quality assurance process already in place, but because we’ve only had two assessments so far that hasn’t been actioned yet.’’
It set a ‘‘high standard’’, Gebbie said.
Once Williams’ home had passed the test, he could put his property on the council’s verified ‘‘passed’’ list, he said.
As for the spelling errors in the report, Gebbie said the trust worked hard to maintain standards of professionalism.
Two landlords had applied for the rental WOF, Gebbie said.
Financial adviser and rental property owner Joseph Williams.