NZ Rental WOF can trace its roots in work undertaken by Otago Property Management in 2013, which released a Rental Warrant of Fitness system to the public and quickly created a flurry both nationally and internationally in the Rental Industry.
NZ Rental WOF Founder, Sonia Thom, believes that improving the quality of New Zealand's rental housing stock is beneficial to all stakeholders - tenants, landlords and property managers. Tenants naturally benefit from healthier homes; equally landlords and property managers benefit from more stable, longer term tenancies by happier and more satisfied tenants.
Although when the WOF system was introduced in 2013 landlords were seeing changes coming, the scope of changes to come were not yet recognised. Just as we are still only in the early stages of pre-regulation today. Given the opportunity to work alongside local government and other national stakeholders, NZ Rental WOF has gone onto develop this earlier standard further to meet the current changes to legislation.
In 2013 a sample of houses from across New Zealand took part in a Rental WOF Trial developed by the University of Otago, from, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Tauranga and Dunedin. Of the 144 houses tested, only 8 (6%) passed and 136 (94%) failed the assessment criteria.
In 2014 a Warrant of Fitness Standard was trialed within Housing New Zealand Rental Stock, developed by Housing New Zealand, and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officials and agreed with by the Ministry of Housing. The first trial encompassed 100 houses, and then a further 400 houses were tested. This trial criteria grouped into three main categories, being a) Insulated and Dry; b) Safe and Secure; and c) Essential Amenities.
Following this trial the minister for Business and Housing sought changes to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act (2016). These changes included new requirement for smoke alarms, and ceiling and underfloor insulation to be phased in between 2016 and 2019, with accompanying disclosure statements from landlords.
Strengthened ‘retalatory rights’ provisions, to increase tenants confidence in exercising their rights; and changes to enable faster resolution of tenancy abandonment cases to allow rental properties be re-let more quickly.
More powers were given to the MBIE and a team of National Inspectors were appointed to carry out inspections on under performing properties, with the ability to issue fines at discretion.