A Warrant of Fitness for rental properties is to be introduced in Wellington and Dunedin this year as part of research by Otago University.
It will require basic standards for things like ventilation, heating, safety and hygiene in a rental property.
Otago University researcher Lucy Telfar Barnard said the new programme would measure how a Warrant of Fitness affects the rental market and tenant health in Wellington and Dunedin, compared with Lower Hutt and Invercargill, which are not planning to introduce such a scheme.
Nearly half of all New Zealanders live in rental accommodation, which is on average older than owner-occupied dwellings, built to less-stringent building codes, and not as well maintained, she said.
About 18,000 homes in Dunedin would benefit from the warrant of fitness, which would be used to guide government policy.
The research would be completed in time to inform government policy before insulation and smoke alarms become mandatory for all rentals in 2019.