Rental house WOF urged

By Daniel Jackson

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A "warrant of fitness" system for Wanganui rental units could raise the standard of homes to let in the city.

Wanganui lawyer Hamish McDouall said a compulsory building examination for rentals, similar to what was proposed for Dunedin, would make sure houses available for rent were fit to live in.

Young Wanganui mum Danielle Hope was awarded $4500 by the Tenancy Tribunal for issues relating to a house she rented at 47 Pitt St, Wanganui, from Federal Housing Management Ltd, owned by Hamish Davey.

The house had a leaky roof, mould, leaky toilet and other issues and yet the landlords were charging $200 a week and wanted to increase the rent.

Ms Hope complained and was evicted, with many of her and her children's possessions ruined. She is still waiting for the $4500 awarded by the tribunal.

Mr McDouall, who has dealt with tenancy issues through his role as a lawyer at the Community Law Office in Wanganui, and also as a landlord himself, said landlords could take advantage of lower house prices in Wanganui to buy numerous properties for the price of one house in other cities.

"It's almost the standard model for exploitation to buy a cheap house and do little to no maintenance, while getting rent that ticks down the mortgage."

He said guaranteed payments from Work and Income New Zealand were particularly attractive for landlords and, if the tenant complained about conditions, unscrupulous landlords could "turf them out and get another".

He said the Dunedin City Council was considering a local bill, which would allow the council to put a bill through Parliament, giving the council power to enforce a warrant of fitness on rentals in the city.

The city's Mayor, Dave Cull, said the council was trying to set a minimum standard for rentals especially in the area of insulation, heating and weather tightness.

Mr McDouall said many of Wanganui and Dunedin's rentals were similar in age and condition.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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