Cromwell tenants’ rent rises
An emotional plea from the mayor to stop a rent increase to elderly housing tenants in Cromwell failed to gain support of council.
The Central Otago District Council owns 98 elderly housing units throughout the district and on Wednesday councillors voted to increase rentals up to $25 per week, which includes a $5 ‘‘shortfall catchup’’’ to its Cromwell tenants.
Tenants in Ranfurly, Roxburgh and Alexandra escaped a rent increase, but some who had been paying under market rent would still have to pay the shortfall catchup.
Mayor Tim Cadogan, supported by councillors Malcolm Topliss and Victoria Bonham, moved a motion to put a hold on the increase to Cromwell tenants for the 2017-18 year until a review of the elderly persons housing policy be undertaken as per the Long Term Plan. The $5 catch up would still apply.
‘‘I went and visited people (last year) and I sat and had a cup of tea and heard their hardship,’’ Cadogan said. ‘‘There is something broken. If we make a rental increase that much...we have failed...Having been someone living on a fixed income I know what $25 rent rise will do to people. It bothers me greatly.’’
Deputy mayor Neil Gillespie, who opposed the motion, said the market rental in Cromwell had ‘‘gone ballistic’’, so the market increase flowing onto the units was not surprising.
‘‘The increase in the nonelderly housing units is probably far greater. One bedroom sheds on rural properties are going for $250 a week...there ain’t no-one out there helping those people. The risk is we change the policy on the fly and you have to be really careful about doing that. Everybody pretty much I know is on a fixed income...We weren’t that sympathetic to other parties that have been affected by rates increases. Look what happened last year with rates - 27 per cent increase for every ratepayer in Cromwell, and some really big rates increases to a large number of people in the Manuherikia...I just think it is bad governance.’’
Cromwell tenant Daphne Campbell said she would struggle to afford her new rent of $400 a fortnight on a single income pension. ‘‘I don’t think it is good they are putting it up so much. Everyone is getting a shock.’’
The rent increase takes effect from September 1, 2017.
Pensioner Daphne Campbell.