Candidate Bernard O’Shaughnessy answers Renters United’s questions

September 30, 2019 11:58 pm

Renters United asked every candidate in the Motukairangi/Eastern Ward 14 questions about the issues that most concern renters in Wellington. Here are Bernard O’Shaughnessy responses in full. Compare Bernard with other candidates.

Housing quality:

How will you ensure all council owned and/or managed housing is safe, warm and dry? 

Council must be plodded to continue with urgency the up grade programme, but they have not yet put in their share of $200million as promised. This will be a big problem for the next Council. the Council were criticised for building new units to higher than required standards. I am very angry with Council about that.

What actions would you take to improve the quality of private rental housing in Wellington?

I would lobby both Council and State to continue to get better legislation to improve the quality of Wellington rental housing. Some great steps have been taken but a lot more to do.

Security of tenure: 

How will you ensure all council tenants have security of tenure?

To ensure tenants have security of tenure is a philosophy position and I would lobby for that. I think we need to increase our Council Housing stock.

What actions would you take to improve stability and security for private renters?

A law change is needed to give security to private renters.

Housing supply and affordability:

WCC estimates Wellington has a shortfall of 4,000 houses. Rents have increased in the city by 10% per annum for the last three years.

Would you set a target for Council to double its housing portfolio by 2024 (from approximately 2,000 units to 4,000)?

Yes I do think Council should double its social housing stock.

I have been active for 10 years now engaging with Council over some of their short comings.

You will be aware that since the up grade programme rents are ring fenced to fund further up grades – which is where the problem is now in that the future up grades still needed exceed in coming rents.

BUT the big question is “What happened to all the rent that has been collected for 30 to 50 years from all the complexes Council has. Basically it was put into ‘general’ funds to use by the city. Meantime successive Councils let the flats get into disrepair.

It could and should be be a political scandal.

How many new houses do you think the City Council should be building annually (above and beyond the private sector)?

I think Council should be building 500 social housing units each year for a decade.

What are your other ideas for addressing the housing shortage and how would you make those a Council priority?

Some 8 years ago I said: Ïf I was mayor I would:

a ) buy some apartment blocks and convert them to flats for rent at fix low rents

b) buy a old cruise liner for $3 million, tie it up in Shelly Bay, then house the homeless therein, but at the same time giving the tenants job opportunities and social counselling programmes.

OR c) covert Mt Crawford prison into a hostel for the homeless and poor people but also made it a ‘training facility’ to engage in obtaining skills.

I think we should be building more smaller affordable housing units and use land such as the Berhampore Golf course or other land areas that are clearly being ‘land banked’ presently.

Would you advocate for additional powers or resources from Central Government to address the housing crisis (such as the ability to freeze rents), if so what and how? 

Yes, local authorities should have better laws to address housing needs. I am pleased the Coalition Govt has indicated that the Resource Management Act is to be reviewed. The Tenancy Act also must be addressed. I do support the notion that rents could be fixed for a yearly amount, then be further fixed at a lower level than what some landlords now implode the market.

Meaningful enforcement of laws:

Renters United believes the council should be more proactive in supporting renters to enforce both the existing and new housing quality laws (i.e. the Healthy Homes Standards). This could include funding and undertaking inspections of private rental houses against the standards and/or funding advocacy services to support renters in enforcing their rights.

Would you support and fund Council proactively inspecting rental homes?

Yes, Council should be actively inspecting home and have the lawful backing to do that. I support a concept of a ‘warrant of fitness’ for all homes.

Do you think that Council should play a greater role in enforcing the standards?

In this modern world both the State and Local authority have let a whole regime of compliance slip into inactivity! This has and is causing huge problems across many sectors, such as Health, shop, building and other areas where standards should be established.

We need to have more and better enforcement services from all state and local agencies.

What other actions would you take to improve the quality of rental housing in Wellington?

I would lobby at Council to State to get better law protection for renters.

Would you fund a dedicated tenants’ advocacy service?

Yes I would advocate funding a tenants advocacy service to be separate from both Local Council and State services.

What else do you think Council should do to address power imbalance between landlords and tenants?

Renting is very different in some overseas countries, and a lot better for tenants.

We as a small country could do a lot better.

Do you have any other ideas or plans relevant to renters that you would like to share?

Yes I advocate for different schemes.

In 2010 I made a submission to Council when they review then their Housing policy.

I attach my submission made at the time.

I refer you to B) Rent to Buy.

and C) An equity Transfer Loan Scheme

also D) Increase rent subsidy

I ask that you note that submission.

I also wrote a paper and when to three different political parties (Annette King, Norman Russell and the Nats) and discussed it. I also spoke with President of Student Union at Vic.

My idea was to have a SHED.

Student Home Equity Development scheme.

This was to say that as students at university at being educated for the benefit of the country then after completing their degree, and in moving into a relevant profession, that CREDIT be given for the student loan to be seen as equity as a housing deposit.

Well, time passes: and now we have a GOVT policy to give first year students free fees.

So why not a SHED.

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