Habitat opens to district’s families
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.”
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.