Renters United speak to the Hikoi for Homes

November 24, 2015 1:00 am

On Saturday, some of our members joined Wellington’s Hikoi for Homes – photos here. Robert Whitaker spoke to the crowd at Civic Square on behalf of Wellington Renters United. This is his speech:

Renters United is a new campaigning organisation set up to work for a fair deal for renters.

We want renting to be affordable, we want renters to have a stable and secure home and we want all rental properties to be safe and healthy.

Today I want to share with you a few facts to give you a better sense of how renting looks for renters in Wellington today.

Politicians tend to think of renting as a temporary situation, something you do for a few years as a student that “builds character”. In fact only 10% of renters are living in flat shares. Most renters are single people, couples and families.

Every year Wellington City Council asks citizens about the quality of their home. Last year 70% of people in Wellington reported that the home was cold at least some of the time and 42% reported that the home was damp at least some of the time. These statistics are for renters and homeowners together, but we know that rentals are generally in worse condition, so the proportion of renters who lived in cold and damp homes is probably higher.

On average renters move house once every ten months. Moving this often is massively disruptive to family life and makes finding stable jobs more difficult. This leads to a perpetual sense of insecurity. Demand for rental housing is so high that renters have very little meaningful choice about where they live. It also contributes to housing discrimination.

Very high cost of rent also affects many renters. Over the last five years rents have increased by more than 20%. For those on lower incomes this has had a dramatic effect on their lives: almost all people who receive the accommodation supplement pay more than 30%, and more than half pay more that 50% of their income to a landlord.

The sad reality of renting is that having a cold damp house is not extraordinary. Paying unaffordable rent is not extraordinary. And being forced to move on – even when you do find a livable home – is not extraordinary. These are ordinary experiences for renters in Wellington.

Changing this reality will require change at all levels of Government and in the private sector. But they won’t change unless we demand it.

We started Renters United to tackle these issues and we need your help. If you’re a renter please consider joining us and together we can campaign for a better deal for renters.

About the author:


In: . .

Comments are closed here.