Mayoral candidate Conor Hill answers Renters United’s questions

September 30, 2019 10:29 pm

Renters United asked every candidate for the mayoralty 14 questions about the issues that most concern renters in Wellington. Conor Hill is also running in the Wharangi/Onslow-Western Ward. Here are Conor Hill’s responses in full. Compare Conor with other candidates.

Housing quality:

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

Council homes need to meet the standards outlined in the private sector rental WOF. Independent inspection could ensure this.

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

I want to make the rental WOF freely available to tenants and also fund tenants advocacy groups. My policy is here

Security of tenure: 

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

I mean I think we have to get to a point where there is an oversupply of social homes. At the moment, I don’t know what happens when say for instance a big block is being refurbished or demolished. I imagine not all tenants can be rehomed.

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

I want to fund tenancy advocacy groups. The rest is about lobbying the government for changes. I believe the tenancy tribunal should be anonymous for renters. I support the 9 steps outlined in the plan to fix renting under stable homes. However this are central government changes.

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)?

I think there can be issues with targets. If the way the council does that is to build 2000 market rate rentals, similar to the ones they are building with Cassels, then that has limited use. My goal would be for the council to build 750 social homes, actually funded by the council. None or their current house building programme is. At the same time, I think some more of the current council housing portfolio should be shifted to HNZ management, particularly while council tenants are not eligible for income related rents.

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

200 initially. I would be surprised if there was capacity and ability to deliver more than that at this point. I would want that to be additional. Te Mara is 104 units, but only really 50 additional.

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

Supply is a huge issue. Our district plan needs to allow for more homes in more places, we need to change silly rules that make homes much more expensive, for instance the council makes most people have carparks and they can add as much as 50 – 100,000 to the cost of a new home. I want to see some of Berhampore golf course turned into housing, and I want to see land value rating which would disincentivise land banking and central city car yards. My almost complete package is here

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. I would like to see rent controls on existing homes. this would not effect new supply.

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?

I support tenant funding inspections of rental properties on tenant invitation.

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

If so, how would you go about doing so? I believe council should fund tenants advocacy groups to help enforce standards.

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

I would investigate creating a rental quality grading system.

Would you fund a dedicated tenants’ advocacy service?

Yes

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

The two biggies are to increase housing supply, with more options tenants can make better choices. The second is security of tenure and that is about advocating to central government from what I understand.

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

I have engaged closely with the plan to fix renting. I want to advocate to central government for many of the things in here, as many of them are central government changes. In Wellington this is important as we have a very high proportion of renters.

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