Ki­wis strug­gling to keep up with rent

Matamata Chronicle - - Property - PAUL MITCHELL

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.

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