Nearly 30 percent of properties surveyed in a rental housing warrant of fitness pilot lacked adequate insulation and 37 percent didn’t have any form of fixed heating.

But the results may underestimate shortfalls as homes included in the pilot weren’t randomly selected. Properties were volunteered by landlords and the 144 homes had already undergone significant improvements.

The rental housing WOF has been developed by the University of Otago and the New Zealand Green Building Council with input from ACC and councils in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Only 6 percent of homes in the pilot passed all 31 criteria in the WOF. However, a report by the University of Otago’s Housing and Health Research Programme says the pass rate could have been lifted to 36 percent with relatively minor fixes to houses such as reducing the hot-water temperature and installing smoke alarms.

The report states 40 percent of homes failed the water-temperature check and 30 percent didn’t have working smoke alarms.

Dr Julie Bennett, from the University of Otago, says the project steering group is refining the WOF criteria and the number is likely to be reduced from 31 to 27. Dr Bennett is hopeful the WOF will be trialled by a council so its effect on rental standards and rents can be assessed.