Ris­ing rents bring calls for con­trols

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JENNY LING and LAU­REN PRIESTLEY

Auck­lan­ders are work­ing longer hours to pay for sky­rock­et­ing rents, spark­ing calls for rent con­trols to be im­posed by the govern­ment.

The Sal­va­tion Army state of the na­tion re­port says Auck­land rents are ris­ing about 10 per cent faster than in­comes.

Rents have in­creased 17 per cent since 2009 in Auck­land, but in the rest of coun­try they in­creased just 11 per cent. The ex­cep­tion is Christchurch where rents in­creased by 20 to 30 per cent af­ter the 2011 earthquakes.

Sal­va­tion Army so­cial pol­icy an­a­lyst Alan John­son says that na­tion­ally it is a good pic­ture, but ‘‘in Auck­land it’s not so good, par­tic­u­larly in cen­tral Auck­land’’.

‘‘It’s pop­u­la­tion growth which is still hap­pen­ing in Auck­land and the fact we’re just not build­ing enough hous­ing across the re­gion.

‘‘A great deal more needs to be done to start clos­ing that availability deficit.

‘‘It’s the sup­ply prob­lem and it needs to be ad­dressed more di­rectly by govern­ment.’’

A search on RealEstate.co.nz found twobed­room homes priced be­tween $350 to $650 a week in Mis­sion Bay, $400 to $430 in One­hunga, be­tween $495 and $530 in Pon­sonby and a whop­ping $700 a week in Orakei.

Ta­maki Hous­ing Group mem­ber Sue Henry says land­lords are now charg­ing up to $700 a week for a three-bed­room house in Glen Innes.

Ris­ing ren­tal prices are a ‘‘big issue’’ af­fect­ing many Auck­lan­ders, she says.

‘‘I know one fam­ily who moved into a home, the electrics weren’t work­ing and there was sewage spilling out of the drains but they were still charged $320 per week.

‘‘It got put up to $445 and then $550.

‘‘The ten­ants couldn’t pay it then and got evicted.

‘‘Peo­ple are too fright­ened to speak out be­cause they think they’ll be evicted.’’

Julie Clark and Ce­leste Strewe’s four-bed­room house in Kings­land costs $700 a week to rent.

‘‘It’s def­i­nitely pricier here than in Welling­ton,’’ Ms Clark says.

‘‘I do think it’s ex­pen­sive but at the same time con­sid­er­ing my friends are pay­ing a sim­i­lar price in Christchurch I can’t com­plain.’’

Ms Strewe says the lo­ca­tion is worth it but ‘‘ev­ery­thing is go­ing up ex­cept the wages’’.

Grey Lynn-based Ten­ants Pro­tec­tion As­so­ci­a­tion co­or­di­na­tor An­gela May­nard says the govern­ment should bring in rent con­trols.

‘‘That would stop them go­ing up all the time.

‘‘If they con­tinue more peo­ple will be looking for ac­com­mo­da­tion sup­ple­ments to help pay the rent.’’

Pay­ing peo­ple a liv­ing wage would also help, Ms May­nard says.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple are find­ing it very dif­fi­cult.

‘‘If you did both of these things we’d get a much bet­ter ren­tal cli­mate. It would be sta­ble.’’

Auck­land mayor Len Brown pro­posed a liv­ing wage of $18.40 an hour for the low­est-paid coun­cil work­ers last year.

The min­i­mum wage for adults is now $13.75 an hour.

But in De­cem­ber a ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors voted 11-10 to block the move from be­ing in­cor­po­rated into the draft 2014-2015 an­nual bud­get. The costs and wider im­pli­ca­tions of the liv­ing wage pol­icy are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.


Can’t com­plain: Ce­leste Strewe and Julie Clark weigh up the ben­e­fits of liv­ing in Kings­land with pay­ing high rents.

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