Wellington's voluntary WOF for rentals programme passes just two properties in two years

Landlords are describing Wellington City Council's warrant of fitness for rental housing as a well-intentioned flop and say it should be scrapped. 

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Just two properties have acquired a pass mark since the policy’s inception two years ago. Source: 1 NEWS

Just two properties have acquired a pass mark since the council put the policy in place nearly two years ago. 

It was described as New Zealand's first rental warrant of fitness, aimed at improving the quality of rental options in the capital. 

Mayor Justin Lester said in August 2017 it's a voluntary scheme, so landlords would be able to get inspections of their houses for $250, valid for up to three years, "to help make the quality of Wellington housing and ultimately New Zealand housing, much much better". 

Two decades of research was finally in action. 

"We've come up with a minimum list of things that will make a real difference to stop those 40,000 children going into hospital each year," Philippa Howden-Chapman of Otago University, Wellington said in a video alongside Mr Lester in August 2017.

But nearly two years later, just two homes have applied for a warrant and passed, coming as no surprise to landlords.  

"I think it might be a bit harsh saying it's a waste of time and money. I think their intentions were good. But it was probably a misguided initiative," Andrew King of the New Zealand Property Investors Federation told 1 NEWS. 

And he says tenants are more than capable of choosing where they want to live. 

"I think imposing this on other people, it's expensive, it's intrusive."

Justin Lester is defending the scheme, saying it's "around a campaign" and it has spurred central government into action. 

"We said to the Government we wanted them to introduce a rental warrant of fitness. The previous government said no. The current Government they've taken some action which is great," he said. 

The Healthy Homes Guarantee came in in July this year, the mayor and the Government claiming that's filled the gaps and done enough. 

But the Greens remain steadfast in their support for something with a lot more teeth.

"We need an enforcement, and that's why we've called for a warrant of fitness, not just a guarantee," said Marama Davidson, Green Party co-leader.

Ms Davidson says there's a long way to go to make sure there aren't still rentals out there making people sick.