The time for tame reforms of tenancy laws is over says CPAG
As a country we should see that every every Kiwi child has the right to live in a home which is warm, safe and secure, says Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).
“Sadly, this is not the case for tens of thousands of children in poverty, many of whom are living in poor quality over-priced private rental housing,” says CPAG Co-convenor and housing spokesperson Alan Johnson.
“Overcrowded housing is becoming an all too familiar situation for many families, who simply cannot afford to rent a home that accommodates their needs. They are living in housing that is of poor quality, unable to be heated efficiently and damaging to their children’s health,” says Mr Johnson.
“The chronic shortage of state homes and the spread of the housing shortage out of Auckland now means that families are still living in cars and garages, or being temporarily housed in motels while they are waiting for a state house.”
Renters United is calling for the Government to fix rental laws so that all rented housing is safe, that rents are fair, that tenants have security of tenure, and that there are better ways to resolve rental disputes, so that tenants aren’t left out on a limb.
“We know that the Government is about to embark on a review of the Residential Tenancies Act and that Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford has promised to ban letting fees,” says Johnson.
“In addition the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill will offer better living conditions to all tenants.
“There is however a real danger that further reforms are tame and fundamentally fail to address the basic problem that private sector tenants have virtually no security of tenure. Until we prohibit landlords being able to evict tenants for little or no reason and introduce laws which offer tenants some permanence, as a society we will continue to fail children living in private rental housing.”
CPAG says that a complete review of the Residential Tenancies Act needs to be undertaken, and new, improved policies that reflect a modern society in which long-term renting is normal should be instated. The 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.
Find out more at www.fixrenting.org.nz and visit the Renters United Facebook page.
Download CPAG’s housing policy recommendations here.
Photo credit: andym5855