Mayoral candidate Conor Hill wants to ensure all Wellingtonians live in healthy homes.
He says let’s do this by making the Wellington City Council’s Rental Warrant of Fitness freely available to people who rent, and by providing advocacy services so that people have the legal support they need when renting an unhealthy home.
Hill said: “Like much of Justin Lester’s policy platform, the rental WoF is a great idea, poorly executed. The idea is to provide healthy homes for people who rent. The issue is that it is voluntary, and only landlords can request it. So far only two properties have received a rental WoF. Wellington’s people who rent are no healthier.
“Almost every Wellingtonian has rented a cold, mouldy, draughty, unhealthy home. It’s not good enough and it needs to change.
“Let’s change the rental WOF so that people who rent can request a free rental WoF. If someone is renting a cold, mouldy, or draughty home, they should be able to request a free inspection to see whether or not the home meets central government’s healthy homes standard and would receive a rental WoF. The process would be much the same as the current landlord’s rental WoF, it’s just that it would happen on a renter’s invitation.”
If a home did not meet the healthy homes standards, then a tenant can take the landlord to the tenancy tribunal for up to $4000 under current legislation. It’s here that the second part of Hill’s plan kicks in. He wants to see tenant advocacy services funded by the council.
“It’s clear that current support for people who rent is not appropriate, as tenants currently make up a tiny minority of applicants to the tenancy tribunal. People need support when the homes they are living in are unhealthy. The council should fund tenant advocacy services, so that people who rent have the support they need when applying to the tenancy tribunal, particularly for anything related to unhealthy homes.”
– Healthy homes standards can be found here.
– In the 2017 year, only 2,408 of the 18,530 applications to the tenancy tribunal were from tenants. The rest were from landlords.
– The current rental WoF costs $250. Initially council could fund up to one thousand rental WoF inspections a year for people who rent. This would cost a maximum of $250,000 per annum.
– Initially the advocacy service could be funded for 2 – 3 staff members at a cost of around $250,000 a year.