Candidate Richard McIntosh answers Renters United’s questions

September 30, 2019 11:06 pm

Renters United asked every candidate in the Wharangi/Onslow-Western Ward 14 questions about the issues that most concern renters in Wellington. Here are Richard McIntosh responses in full. Compare Richard with other candidates.

Housing quality:

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

Arrange for MBIE compliance and inspection to conduct randomised inspections in Council-owned housing.

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

In relation to privately-owned rentals, WCC needs to; 1. make sure all tenants know about the compliance timeframes 2. Help tenants direct complaints arising from non-compliance to the right people in MBIE.

Security of tenure: 

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

I don’t know the terms upon which WCC offers housing. I would expect them at the least to be ongoing leases rather than fixed-term, and to reduce inspection frequency to six months.

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

Council can ensure that its website and its phone operators have the right info to hand to help people out when they need information about disputing aspects of housing standards or tenancy arrangements.

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 support the building of more Council housing.

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

I don’t know the answer to this one.

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

WCC needs to build alliances to pressure Central Govt to enforce existing statute: sec. CB6 of the Income Tax Act, for example, to eliminate speculation in the housing ‘market’.

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? 

Rent freezes no. Beefed-up and proactive complaints and inspection services yes.

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 don’t think Council should develop inspection capabilities. Tenancy Services, via Tenancy Compliance & Investigations has the power and technical capability to inspect rentals. WCC needs to come to an agreement with them about actioning these in Wellington City.

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

From my own point of view, having lived in a very poor quality rental 2011-2018 with, for example, a cracked & leaking sewage pipe, I think Council’s role is to recognise and rememdy the public health aspects immediately. The healthy housing aspects are better dealt with by Tenancy Services via TCI. Council needs to come to an agreement with Tenancy Services about how best to give tenants the right advice about how to act on their complaints.

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

The inclusion of innovative, cost-saving features in new Council built homes, like solar powered lighting, solar collection hot water, rain water collection etc, will set the standard for new builds everywhere.

Would you fund a dedicated tenants’ advocacy service?

Yes, but via a third party provider like CAB or Community Law.

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

Again, the availability and active provision, for people of any capacity, of timely, accurate, helpful advice on WHO to speak to and upon WHAT basis, is incredibly helpful to the renter looking for help.

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

No response.

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