State houses will have to be leak-free, well-ventilated and contain an electric light in each room to get a warrant of fitness under a trial which will determine whether the scheme is extended to all rental properties.

Housing Minister Nick Smith launched the trial yesterday which will evaluate 500 state houses and revealed the minimum standards which the homes would have to reach. Two hundred of the Housing New Zealand properties were in Auckland.

Each home would have to pass a 49-point checklist to get a WoF every three years. They would have to be insulated and dry, safe and secure, and contain essential amenities such as bathroom and kitchen facilities.

Dr Smith said the trial would reveal whether housing WoFs were practical and cost-effective. In six months, Housing New Zealand would report how many homes were up to standard and the cost of upgrading deficient properties.


Opposition parties said the trial was a "stunt" because the real problem was in the private rental sector where thousands of children lived in cold, damp homes.

"Most poor people live in private rentals. Only 4 per cent of Kiwis live in state houses," said Labour's housing spokesman, Phil Twyford.

The Government completed an insulation upgrade of its state housing stock last year.

Mr Twyford has drafted a bill that would set minimum standards for insulation and heating for all rental properties, which would have to be implemented by landlords within five years. The private member's bill is due to come before Parliament soon but is expected to fail because of opposition from National, Act and United Future.

Dr Smith said it was important the Government got its own housing stock in order before it decided whether to apply warrants to the private and social housing sector. It was necessary to be cautious about removing houses from the rental market during a housing shortage.

Housing WoF
Ceiling and floor insulation, good ventilation in all rooms, dry under-floor spaces and no leaks or mould.

Hot-water temperature controls, warning stickers on windows, well-lit access, smoke alarms, secure storage for toxic substances, handrails, smoke alarms.

Working toilets, showers, basins, doors, kitchen sink, washing machine, kitchen storage, utensils and food preparation area, wastewater and stormwater services, property identification, and an electric light in each room.