Habi­tat opens to dis­trict’s fam­i­lies

Coastal News - - News - By ALI­SON SMITH news@coastal­news.co.nz

A hous­ing char­ity that has helped hun­dreds of Kiwi fam­i­lies into home own­er­ship has opened its door to com­mu­nity groups will­ing to help find so­lu­tions to the Coro­man­del’s crit­i­cal rental short­age.

While its fo­cus is on cities na­tion­ally, it says any lo­cal com­mu­nity groups in­ter­ested in work­ing to ad­dress af­ford­able hous­ing and rental short­ages in Whanga­mata and else­where on the Coro­man­del should get in touch.

“Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity is al­ways look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties if an in­di­vid­ual or com­mu­nity group is will­ing to be in­volved in a pro­gramme around af­ford­able hous­ing in the com­mu­nity,” says Nic Greene, gen­eral man­ager for Habi­tat Cen­tral North Is­land.

“If they’re up for that con­ver­sa­tion — we are too.”

Real es­tate agents say Whanga­mata has been dec­i­mated by sales that have taken out more than 50 per cent of the rental pool in three years.

This, along with the re­form of the Res­i­den­tial Te­nan­cies Act that will add nu­mer­ous re­quire­ments to bach own­ers choos­ing to rent out their prop­er­ties, is putting the squeeze on an al­ready crit­i­cal short­age of rental prop­er­ties.

The av­er­age rent has dou­bled in 12 years and Whi­tianga is more ex­pen­sive than Whanga­mata.

But rent rises are pre­dicted as land­lords are faced with meet­ing ad­di­tional costs on heat­ing, in­su­la­tion, get­ting un­per­mit­ted work signed off with coun­cil, in­creased in­sur­ance and test­ing costs for meth test­ing, and los­ing rights to say no to pets.

In one case, a land­lord with 14 prop­er­ties has pointed to pro­posed te­nancy re­forms for his de­ci­sion to sell each of his rental prop­er­ties as their lease comes to an end, af­ter 25 years in the busi­ness.

Mr Greene says “ac­ci­den­tal” land­lords — those with prop­er­ties such as baches or who have not bought in­ten­tion­ally to in­vest in a rental — may need guar­an­tees of longer ten­ure too if pro­posed leg­is­la­tion will limit their abil­ity to evict.

Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity’s work in­cludes pro­vid­ing ren­tals to low in­come fam­i­lies, a home re­pair pro­gramme help­ing low in­come fam­i­lies with the most ur­gent home re­pair for af­ford­able re­pay­ments to the owner, and an as­sisted home own­er­ship pro­gramme.

With this pro­gramme, fam­i­lies in­vest 500 hours of their time to build their own home or those of oth­ers. Once their home is com­pleted the fam­ily makes af­ford­able reg­u­lar re­pay­ments to Habi­tat at a no profit ba­sis.

In some smaller dis­tricts, the lo­cal coun­cil had part­nered with Habi­tat to es­tab­lish more af­ford­able hous­ing by sell­ing prop­er­ties such as for­mer aged care homes to the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“As an or­gan­i­sa­tion we like to work in part­ner­ship with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. We wouldn’t roll into Whanga­mata or any­where else on the Coro­man­del and say ‘hey Habi­tat’s here, your prob­lems are over’, but if it’s a coastal com­mu­nity where eight months of the year things are work­ing okay and then de­mand goes up and peo­ple get evicted, then it fun­da­men­tally changes the com­mu­nity.

“We try to find that mid­dle ground, so we com­pletely un­der­stand the changes re­quired for ten­ants but also un­der­stand for in­vestors, they’re just nor­mal peo­ple like ev­ery­one else and they’re the ones tak­ing a lot of risks. I com­pare it to a com­mer­cial ten­ure. If peo­ple want se­cure ten­ure, they should be able to com­mit to a longer lease. If they want flex­i­bil­ity, that should equally be avail­able to the land­lord.”

PHOTO / SUP­PLIED

Nic Greene, gen­eral man­ager for Habi­tat Cen­tral North Is­land hopes to work with com­mu­nity groups will­ing to help find so­lu­tions to the Coro­man­del’s crit­i­cal rental short­age.

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