Kiwis struggling to keep up with rent
A growing number of renters are struggling to keep a roof over their heads – one of the issues at the core of International Tenants Day on Monday.
Kevin Reilly, from the Manawatu Tenants’ Union, said increasing rents were leaving many Kiwis in a vulnerable position.
Statistics New Zealand figures show the average rent increased 26 per cent in the past 10 years.
The average household’s power costs had risen 48 per cent and they were now paying 29 per cent more for food.
But during that time the average income only went up 22 per cent.
Reilly said there was a serious market failure in housing, with the more vulnerable people ending up with no place to go.
Sharlene Tavendale, a single mother with four children, has struggled to find a place to live after a dispute with Housing New Zealand.
‘‘I’m a very independent woman. I’ve raised my kids on my own for the past 15 years with few problems,’’ she said.
Tavendale said they had been living relatively comfortably, but all it took was one thing going wrong to put her on the verge of homelessness.
She said she’d lost her job because of her lack of stable housing, and finding an affordable place for herself and four children was difficult.
A friend has taken her in for now, but up until last week the family was going from motel to motel, paid for with Work and Income assistance.
The Labour Party and the Property Institute both called for housing policy changes last month, with statistics indicating 78 per cent of Kiwi renters couldn’t afford the minimum deposit on the average house.
Reilly said this had led to most cases at the Tenancy Tribunal being for rent arrears.
‘‘The system is not delivering good outcomes for tenants.
‘‘It is time to look at rent controls, which are in place in a number of other developed countries.
‘‘Let the Government deliver fair rents instead of increasing poverty among low-income tenants,’’ Reilly said.
Sharlene Tavendale struggles to find a place to live.