Cromwell ten­ants’ rent rises

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

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.

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