Housing Minister Nick Smith says a trial of warrants of fitness for state homes will provide important information before a full rollout of the programme.
The trial of 500 Housing New Zealand properties was launched in Porirua on Wednesday. They will be checked for insulation, safety and essential facilities like working showers.
Dr Smith says the number of properties not up to standard will be identified and a timeframe and budget to fix them worked out. The trial will also help to refine the fitness criteria.
A coordinator for the Auckland Tenants Protection Association, Angela Maynard, says the organisation has been lobbying for a programme like this since the 1980s. She says it has a list of 15 basic amenities for a safe and healthy house that she hopes will be included in the Government's list.
The Labour Party says the programme ignores the bigger problem of poor-quality private rentals. Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says most struggling families live in private rentals at the bottom end of the market, which are often damp and cold, and almost all state houses have already been upgraded and insulated.