Land­lord: WOF plan too hasty

The Dominion Post - - Front Page - AM­BER-LEIGH WOOLF

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.

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