Time for a housing WOF | The Jackal

9 Feb 2012

Time for a housing WOF

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The NZ Child and Youth Epidemiology Service says hospital admissions of children with serious bacterial infections doubled from 210 for every 100,000 children in 1991 to 451 in the meningococcal epidemic in 2001, and fell back to 377 by 2005 after the epidemic was contained.

But admissions have risen again since then to 445 for every 100,000 children in 2010, driven by a 24 per cent rise in skin infections since 2005.


Dr Baker says: "Maybe we should be using the same approach to deal with all infectious diseases in children."

But he says "the big fundamental issues" are inequality and housing.

"A basic thing would be a housing warrant of fitness that covers health, safety and sustainability issues, a bit like the five-star approach with appliances." He believes that could be run by the Auckland Council.

Despite numerous calls for houses to have a warrant of fitness, the National government has done very little to ensure the housing stock in New Zealand is safe to live in.

As usual it's a question of money... and who exactly is going to pay?

The benefit to the government in having healthier homes and thus less hospital visits and time off work by those adversely affected by poor living standards is pretty obvious... however there is also a benefit to landlords.

Having an effective housing WOF gives the landlord a good gauge of when maintenance needs to occur and therefore appropriate planning can be undertaken. Roofing, piling and re-wiring (to name a few expensive maintenance costs) can all benefit from a planned approach.

Not only will proper maintenance increase the value of a house, a good WOF can make a house more appealing and mitigate any financial claims. This is because a referencing document would be available that specifically shows what state the house is in when it's sold. Integrating the pre-purchase inspection into a housing WOF system could ultimately save time and money.

With 59% of New Zealand houses not maintained properly, surely the government should be looking at ways of rectifying this huge problem that is contributing to increasing levels of ill health and costing the taxpayer millions of dollars each year?