Dunedin WoF launched
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Sally Blackwell
Dunedin WoF launched

Source: Otago Daily Times

A warrant of fitness rating system for Dunedin rental properties is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

Otago Property Management implemented the system this week, having spent the past six months developing and trialling it with a small group of property owners.

The initiative was applauded by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, and preceded proposals for housing warrants of fitness being considered by the Government.

Otago Property Management managing director Sonia Thom said she was not aware of any other such initiative operating in New Zealand.

The company had been involved in a cosy-homes forum and had discussed its warrant system with the Otago Property Investors Association and tertiary student associations, she said.

“We are working alongside them to look at what happens further down the track. It’s important to make a benchmark and start implementing it.”

The warrant system gave ratings for heating, insulation, ventilation, energy and safety and provided audits of more detailed information about each property’s performance within those categories.

Such information and a visual rating was included in listings.

If properties did not meet standards, owners were encouraged to increase ratings by taking advantage of insulation and energy saving schemes.

Ms Thom said the warrant system gave tenants confidence about rental properties, and owners benefited from having their properties shown to be of quality.

“We see the benefits to both landlords and tenants as being a win-win situation. This is setting a benchmark and it will be self-regulating,” she said.

The firm managed about 200 rental properties, most of which were family homes.

Under the warrant system prospective tenants could easily see what they would get for their money and select homes which suited their specific needs, Ms Thom said.

“We are confident the standards we are measuring against will meet and exceed those proposed by central and local government at this time.”

– Otago Daily Times

  1. It’s a marketing story now. How do we get Property Managers to only accept properties for rentals that have a WoF. I mean if we had $5M to run a serious TV based etc, public-good messaging campaign we could swing this.

  2. Hi Phil
    I think it would be a marketing story now if we were unified over (a) the system to be used, and (b) terminology. I was in Dunedin last week and visited Otago Property Management Services (http://www.otagopropertymanagement.co.nz/listings.php) to talk about their ‘WoF’. I applaud their initiative, and as a property management company they bring good knowledge about landlord/tenant attitudes, and a pragmatic approach, to this area. But, it is yet another iteration of a rating scheme, that differs both in the categories of measurement, and scale of measurement, from other schemes. It has 5 categories of measurement – heating, insulation, ventilation, energy and security – which are shown on an individual scale, and as well are amalgamated into an overall star rating.
    Compare this to the existing STARS scheme operating in Dunedin for student accommodation which has 4 categories – fire safety, security, insulation, and heating – again with individual scales as well as a single amalgamated star rating. Quite clearly, the star ratings for the two schemes will mean different things.
    And now compare these to the Homestar/ University of Otago 6 proposed WOF criteria: insulation and heating, moisture and ventilation, sanitation and plumbing, safety and security, electricity and water supply, and structural soundness. Potentially, we face a real mess, with competing and differing meanings attached to star ratings (or other forms of rating), and scope for large confusion in the marketplace.

    The second point is the confusion (or misrepresentation?) of terms. A WoF in vehicle testing terms means meeting certain minimum standards of compliance. But I see the WoF terminology being used here in the housing market not as a form of minimum compliance but as a scalar rating from bad to good.

    Maybe when the Homestar/Otago Uni scheme has run its trial and the practical application of their WoF/ratings scheme is made clear to all of us, there might be some kind of convergence around a single, unified scheme for the country. Then again, given the chequered history of home energy ratings in NZ I wouldn’t be holding my breath.


  3. Hi Ian, thanks for your analysis – very helpful. BRCT is part now of a steering group set up at the Cosy Homes workshop we organised in September with the Otago Community Trust, DCC and Presbyterian Support (the steering group has representatives from the Uni, Southern District Health Board, Otago Property Investors Assn as well). The aim is to set up a leadership/governance structure to coordinate, simplify and progress the provision of material assistance, information, and services in Dunedin city to eliminate fuel poverty and deliver warm cosy homes (and hold the vision “Every Dunedin home is warm and cosy by 2025”).
    We’re looking at the existing successful examples from around the country, and everyone agrees that the piecemeal, ad-hoc approach that is our current situation in Dunedin is not effective and as you say, convergence around a single unified scheme (for ratings) would be good for all – I’d be happy for Dunedin for a start! What I do think this announcement does signal is not the key to rating schemes, but a sign of the increasing interest in addressing fuel poverty and while it would be difficult to link this to the fuel poverty campaign, I certainly think there’s more ‘chatter’ about than there was previously. Now the challenge is for that chatter to become meaningful discussions and action.

  4. I say a different scheme for every part of the country as the turning point on the long road back to Provincial Government. I’ll lead the campaign for different guage railways lines! Norman

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