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Would your investment property pass a Rental Warrant of Fitness?

7 November 2017

Photo: Windows of 320 The Terrace by russellstreet

Efforts to encourage landlords to insulate their rental properties date back to 2007. The prospect of Rental Warrant of Fitness (WOF) is also gathering momentum. It’s likely that a compulsory WOF will be introduced in the coming years as the newly elected Labour coalition government focuses on housing reform. There is no better time than now to understand what this might mean for you.

Wellington City Council was the first to announce a voluntary rental WOF in August 2017 with the intention of introducing a compulsory WOF in three years. This may signal that some form of WOF is coming for all landlords across New Zealand

So, what is a Rental WOF?

The Rental Warrant of Fitness is a voluntary (for now) assessment that can be requested and organised by landlords and tenants (with thelandlord’s permission) to understand the current state of rental property.

Why was it introduced?

The scheme was introduced to lift rental standards and is seen as one of the biggest improvements to the quality of New Zealand’s homes. The scheme is designed to protect tenants and make sure their homes are liveable, safe and dry.

What does it measure?

If you’re from Wellington (and even if you’re not) it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with 29 items Wellington homes are currently checked on. These include insulation, heating, ventilation and structural stability. All areas of the house are being checked. Special attention is paid to any mould, smoke alarms, locks and lighting. Homes receive pass or fail mark on the spot and a detailed report to follow. Every question must achieve a pass for the Rental WOF to be achieved.

Is it free?

Unfortunately, no. The fee is $250. Though if your house doesn’t pass, you have six months to get work done and request another assessment free of charge - at least that’s how it works in Wellington!

What if I don’t pass the inspection?

If the property doesn’t pass, you have six months to make improvements and to fix any problems made obvious during inspection. The council will not be notified.

Does it have to be done?

Right now, a WOF is only available in Wellington and it is voluntary. If you’re a landlord from Wellington you can choose to partake or not.

What’s in it for me?

If your property passes with flying colours, you get the chance to promote your home to future renters as warm, dry, compliant and comfortable; plus, you can add your property to the list of Rental Warrant of Fitness Verified Houses. It gives renters extra assurance that your property meets the standard and perhaps (if the scheme is voluntary) makes your property stand out and make it more desirable to potential tenants.

How do I prepare?

It is always a good idea to familiarise yourself with potential oncoming changes. At the end of the day, the scheme is there to make sure your rental property is well maintained and looked after. To make sure you’re one step ahead and to see if your property is up to standard, it’s a good idea to check out the current assessment checklist used by Wellington council, available here.

The information contained in this article is exclusively for promotional purposes. It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as the basis for any legal action or contractual dealings. The information is not, and does not attempt to be, a comprehensive account of the relevant law in New Zealand. If you require legal advice you should seek independent legal counsel. does not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.

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