Eastern ward candidate Chris Calvi-Freeman answers Renters United’s questions

September 19, 2016 8:13 pm

Renters United asked every candidate for the Eastern ward 11 questions about the issues that most concern renters in Wellington. Here are Chris Calvi-Freeman’s responses in full. Compare Chris with other candidates. Read responses from other candidates.

1: Wellington City Council has declared its intention to introduce a rental WOF. Do you support the introduction of a rental WOF? If so, how will you go about its introduction?

I support a rental WOF in principle. I look forward to reading the specific proposals and contributing ideas to ensure it operates efficiently, reliably and cost-effectively and achieves better quality rental housing.

2: Are there any other steps you would you do to improve the health, quality and safety of rental homes in Wellington?

We need to ensure that any new rental homes/flats are well constructed and fit for purpose. This includes secure, sunny, accessible, warm, dry, well insulated and well ventilated properties.

I would advocate an objective check-list or scoring system for rental properties, covering a wide range of issues and amenities including those above. Perhaps Housing New Zealand already has the makings of such a system. I never advocate re-inventing the wheel at ratepayers’ cost!

3: How would you address homelessness in Wellington?

This is a tough question because it has a wide range of causes. We need to ensure that the welfare agencies are doing what is expected of them, for example tackling family violence, alcoholism, drug dependency and mental illness etc. I support the living wage and I support improvements to financial and citizens advice services.

4: Do you support the building of additional council housing and if so how much housing should be built in the next council term?

I support the building of additional council housing. I don’t know how many new houses are required.

5: Are there other measures you would take to increase the supply of quality rental housing in Wellington?

We need to ensure that any support given by the Council, such as advisory services to landlords or potential landlords) is fit for purpose. Any new council regulations incumbent on landlords must also be transparent, efficiently administered and fit for purpose.

6: What do you think are the main reasons rents in Wellington are increasing? How would you ensure rents in Wellington are affordable?

Rents are mainly a product of supply and demand. If rents are rising, it suggests we need to improve supply. I would be keen to ascertain whether rents are rising across the board or by area and/or by certain type or size of property, so that additional stock can be built or encouraged to meet those specific demands. For example, are there enough good quality, secure and accessible small properties available for people who want or need to live alone?

7: Many renters face discrimination on the basis of their gender, family status, age and ethnicity and when trying to find a home in Wellington. What steps would you take to address this?

I think this is primarily a responsibility of central government, who established the legislation. The Council has a role in referring people to the relevant agency but could also look to provide an advisory or mediation service to assist tenants who have been disciminated against.

8: Do you support dedicated tenant advocacy services to balance the influence of landlords and rental agents? If so, how should these be funded?

Probably.

9: Would you take steps to tackle persistent bad landlords who do not meet their obligations to renters?

Yes. the actions to be taken depend on the issues. If the housing is dangerous or below a reasonable standard, Council should of course take action through building control etc. If it’s a case of discrimination or overcharging etc, please refer to the answer above. The Council could provide a plain English rental contract template, and could perhaps offer and a “good landlords register” which could be publicly available (opt-in) and may have some small incentive such as a small percentage rates rebate.

10: How would you ensure renting is more stable/secure?

By recognising and incentiving good landlords (see above) and taking action against persistently poor ones.

11: Do you have any other policies that you believe will have a particular impact on improving renting for renters in Wellington?

New rental stock should be encouraged in areas with good local amenities and transport links. We need to tackle social isolation by ensuring good rental stock enhances the neighbourhoods in which it’s located and tenants are encouraged to feel part of their local communities.

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