A rental property warrant of fitness (WOF) was an idea first raised 25 years ago and has been rejected by all Governments since.
NZPIF president Sue Harrison says at a time when there is a cost-of-living crisis, mortgage interest cost increases and higher taxes for rental properties, plus the extra cost of the proposed WOF certification every four years, it is hard for rental property owners to cover all these costs without increasing rents.
“It is tenants who ultimately pay. Improvements need to be genuinely beneficial and cost effective.”
NZPIF vice president Peter Lewis points out that tenants are unlikely to want inspectors to come and check their homes yet another time.
“They already don’t especially like the existing inspections of their homes required by insurance companies. While most insurers insist on three monthly inspections, the NZPIF has obtained agreement for inspections at four monthly intervals for members whose properties are insured with Initio Insurance. Both tenants and rental property owners appreciate having fewer inspections,” Lewis says.
He says the need for a rental property warrant of fitness simply isn’t there. “It would duplicate the laws we already have to cover the quality of rental properties, plus the measures in place to ensure there is compliance.”
Rental property owners make legal declarations that their rentals comply with all aspects of the Healthy Homes regulations and face large fines if these declarations are false. Tenants will know if their homes have problems. They are encouraged to raise these issues and take them to the Tenancy Tribunal. They can receive as they can receive exemplary damages of many thousands of dollars from their non-compliant landlords if their complaints are valid. There have been many examples of this recently, Lewis says.
Tenants are also protected from rogue rental property owners, who end tenancies if the tenant/s raise legitimate issues about their rental homes. Known as retaliatory action and if proven, tenants have been awarded sums of up to $4,000 by the Tenancy Tribunal if the property owner behaves this way.
On top of this, the Government has established the Tenancy Compliance Division which can undertake its own inspections of rental properties and hold poorly behaving rental property owners to account, even without a tenant’s involvement, he says.
“Consequently there are already enough laws to improve the quality of rental property in New Zealand and enough safeguards and punishments to ensure that the standards are met.”
Lewis says the country needs more private rental properties, and there are too too many laws that stop this. “Tenants and rental property providers do not need more of these well-intentioned but misguided measures.”