Southern ward candidate David Lee answers Renters United’s questions

September 20, 2016 10:53 am

Renters United asked every candidate for the Southern ward 11 questions about the issues that most concern renters in Wellington. Here are David Lee’s responses in full. Compare David 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?

Absolutely! Until rental WoF is mandated by legislation, WCC can set a culture of responsibility. WCC can lead a cosy-homes forum and work with property investor associations/groups and tertiary student associations on a voluntary WoF system.

The WoF can give ratings for heating, insulation, ventilation, energy and safety and can provide audits of more detailed information about each property’s performance within those categories.

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

Another very effective tool/incentive to improve the quality of rental housing stock is a flat rating app. The rate-my-flat app is a great start.

3: How would you address homelessness in Wellington?

Homelessness is a symptom of bigger economic and societal problems. We need to approach it as an economic issue so it gets funded appropriately, and seen an investment in our society to support our economy. Otherwise, it’s just seen as another social cost, and accordingly is underfunded.

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

WCC has ~4000 units the second largest social housing stock in NZ, more than AK and Chch. Furthermore, WCC has already started construction/site preparation for more council housing on the Arlington site – possibly the biggest council housing project in Wellington for decades.

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

I believe WCC (and other councils) should also invest in ‘city housing’, taking on the Singapore housing model. A very state controlled housing market that helps people into homes and encourages investment away from property.

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

Economics 101, simple supply and demand. Rents in Wellington are very high compared to the rest of NZ, it is a product of a compact vibrant city, strong tertiary institution base, and active CBD. The only way to bring some affordability into the market, is by ownership of the housing stock by the public sector.

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?

This is a hard one! Discrimination will always be an issue; however, lessening the degree through better awareness and understanding is need but will take time. Sadly, it comes down to the personal mindset of each landlord.

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

It sounds like a good idea, but my concern relates to accessibly for tenants to the service and how much added value such a service will have for a renter. So I’m somewhat neutral on such a service, solely because of accessibility and effectiveness.

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

It’s not very PC, but I would name and shame! A bad list of landlords – could be via social media.

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

Leases are somewhat meaningless for both tenants and landlords. Although they are legal contractual agreements they are often broken by both parties to suit circumstances.

What we do need is a culture change, where there is more respect between landlords and tenants. A good relationship based on respect will ensure a more stable and secure rental tenure.

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

A need for capital gains tax, and no foreign ownership of real estate, with the exception of apartments – which is purchase of airspace. And, encourages urban intensification.

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