CPAG welcomes Govt announcement of tenancy law review

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) welcomes the Government’s plans to review rental law, and is pleased that it intends to engage in public consultation, allowing those who are most affected to have a say in what reforms will have the most positive impacts on their lives.

The Government consultation will have a focus on security of tenure, adequate notice for termination of tenancies, as well as limiting the number of rent increases to once per year.

CPAG says that, critically, a plan to address housing affordability, quality and availability must underpin any changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.

“Children living in low-income families in Aotearoa-New Zealand commonly reside in rented accommodation and often this accommodation is inadequate, being of poor quality, and a contributor to multiple health problems,” says Alan Johnson, CPAG’s housing spokesperson.

“Improving the lot for tenants both in terms of lifting the quality of housing being rented out and giving them greater tenure security are welcome steps to addressing questions of housing related  poverty,” says Mr Johnson.

“However, there appears to be a looming shortage of rental accommodation and within this shortage there may be little protection for tenants from exploitative  landlords. While changes in tenancy law are overdue, the question of the supply of good quality affordable housing remains a bigger and unresolved challenge.”

CPAG urges Government to redouble its KiwiBuild efforts and to commit more money to building state housing in response to this shortage. A twin-track approach that addresses income poverty and equipping families with the means to access adequate housing solutions is critical.

To address sustaining affordability, regulating rent increases based on the Cost Price Index as recommended by Wellington Renters Rights organisation, Renters United is another solution that should be considered.

Reforms supported by CPAG include:

  • Standard tenancy contracts that offer a minimum of three years tenure security;
  • Clear information within the initial agreement about what the rent increases will be, and increases should be limited to yearly;
  • A comprehensive rental Warrant of Fitness, so tenants are assured that problems which have health and safety implications will be remedied with urgency, and not with the threat of a rent increase;
  • No evictions without good reason, and longer notice periods given;
  • Tougher penalties for contract breaches including criminal charges for serious breaches.

The closing date for public submissions is Sunday, 21 October 2018.