Renters United asked every candidate for Mayor 11 questions about the issues that most concern renters in Wellington. Here are Helene Ritchie’s responses in full. Compare Helene 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?
Yes where and when and if possible and feasible, and through education/awareness.
2: Are there any other steps you would you do to improve the health, quality and safety of rental homes in Wellington?
As above. A range of other steps: Opposing the unnecessary rates funded airport runway extension, I instead propose utilising some of those funds for affordable housing, extending Council’s living wage, establishing a renters’ advisory committee, strong advocacy to Government seeking Regulatory change to establish Council tenants’ eligibility for income related rents. I will work with Local Government New Zealand seeking that it request that Government immediately cease selling State Houses, revert Housing New Zealand from a profit-making property company to being a housing provider, and build the requisite number of State Houses.
3: How would you address homelessness in Wellington?
See above and:
Poverty and ill health are issues. As mayor, I will aim to lead an affordable City.
We all have responsibility for our brothers and sisters who for whatever reason-(often health and unemployment) do not have the means to live a good affordable life in proper warm dry homes.
The health of a people is the health of a City. I believe that collaboration between the City Council and the Health are essential-I am standing for the Health Board for that reason.
I will look to Te Mahana the Council’s homeless strategy and to coordinating the various agencies,and funding some.
4: Do you support the building of additional council housing and if so how much housing should be built in the next council term?
Yes, see 2.
5: Are there other measures you would take to increase the supply of quality rental housing in Wellington?
6: What do you think are the main reasons rents in Wellington are increasing? How would you ensure rents in Wellington are affordable?
Demand and supply. See 2.
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?
The Residential Tenancies Act and the Bill of Rights and the Office of the Human Rights Commission are all involved. This is not directly a Council function; however I am implacably opposed to discrimination of any kind, am a strong advocate against discrimination, and will as in my life do what I can whenever it is possible.
Housing is a fundamental human right.
8: Do you support dedicated tenant advocacy services to balance the influence of landlords and rental agents? If so, how should these be funded?
I believe that the Mediation and Tribunal Services (Residential Tenancy Services) work in favour of (and also against!) both parties-depending on the circumstances and issues.
Often however, informal communication tenant(s)-landlord is best.
9: Would you take steps to tackle persistent bad landlords who do not meet their obligations to renters?
Apply the Residential Tenancies Act. This includes Central Government who have not maintained State Houses.
10: How would you ensure renting is more stable/secure?
Rental is a legal agreement between a landlord and a tenant(s). As mayor I will not be intervening with those legal contracts.
However, we can as a Council try to ensure policies that favour secure and stable tenancies in our Council housing. We house approximately 4000 people.
Central government needs to stop selling State Houses, demolishing them, taking them away from stable lives….
11: Do you have any other policies that you believe will have a particular impact on improving renting for renters in Wellington?
Yes I would propose a renters advisory committee of Council.
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