The Green Party’s responses to Renters United’s questions

September 10, 2017 9:53 am

Renters United asked all major political parties their position on the recommendations from the Peoples’ Review of Renting. Here are the responses from the Green Party. Compare all responses.

Will your party introduce a mandatory rental warrant of fitness?

Yes absolutely. A mandatory rental warrant of fitness will ensure warm, dry and healthy housing. We’ve been advocating for a rental warrant of fitness for a long time as a way of raising the standard. In the last term of Parliament we advocated that the Rental Tenancies Amendment Bill go further than just smoke alarms and insulation and introduce a mandatory rental warrant of fitness. Experts like Philippa Howden-Chapman have done great work alongside councils such as the Wellington City Council on a voluntary rental warrant of fitness.

Does your party have any additional policies that will contribute to our goal of “all rental housing is warm, healthy, and safe”?

We want to see changes in the building code, as well as legislation for a mandatory rental warrant of fitness to accomplish this. We also want to support landlords in doing the right thing and will restore the Warm Up NZ insulation grants because everyone in New Zealand should live in a warm, dry, healthy house.

Will your party limit rent rises?

We are committed to rent fairness. We have a members bill in the ballot currently which would restrict rent rises to just once a year and require the formula to be included in the letting agreement. Landlords would not be able to raise rent beyond this agreed amount.

Will your party abolish letting fees?

Absolutely. We’ve seen letting fees be a big part of making renting inconvenient and too expensive for many. We would abolish letting fees.

Will your party take a hands-on approach to the housing market to ensure adequate supply (and affordability) of all housing types?

Yes. We need a mix of housing to cater to a variety of needs but we need to shift the approach to housing to one where houses are not seen as speculative investments to make money. Housing is a social good and a basic right and should be seen as this. For those who aren’t on the housing ladder at all and are sleeping rough, we support a housing first approach in partnership with local governments and community groups to place them into secure accommodation and then provide a variety of services to assist them with the often complex and unmet health needs they have.

The Greens are committed to supporting community housing, with the government acting to facilitate ‘housing bonds’ with investors and partnering with social housing providers to provide additional community housing. Through housing bonds and other partnerships we will support the community housing sector provide at least 1,000 new homes each year.

State housing has been neglected badly by the government with only a net total of 65 houses being built since June 2009. We will ramp up state housing construction with a minimum of 3,000 units each year.

Affordability is another key priority – we will expand which households are eligible to receive income related rents to community and local government housing and ensure that these are capped to 25% of income.

Overall the Green Party will act to protect tenants and fix the broken housing market.

Does your party have any additional policies that will contribute to our goal that “everyone has affordable housing”?

Currently the housing market is overcharged due to overseas property speculation and the treatment of housing as speculative instruments for profit. We will restrict the purchase of land and housing to just New Zealand residents and citizens, remove negative gearing loopholes and bring in a capital gains tax to cool the market and raise much needed revenue to directly increase the supply of houses.

Will your party abolish no-fault evictions?

Yes. We believe that tenancy should be notionally permanent unless agreed otherwise or in the exceptional circumstances of letting the house to a family member or when the landlord sells the place or if the tenant has breached their condition of renting by damaging the property or behaving inappropriately.

Does your party have any additional policies that will contribute to our goal that “people who rent are secure? They can create homes and report problems without fear of eviction”?

Our policy is to give current tenants a first right of renewal when the lease period finishes and to extend the standard length of a normal tenancy to 3 years instead of the default one of one year. This will give tenants security and allow them to put down roots.

Will your party reform the Tenancy Tribunal to lower the barriers to access?

Yes. Although the tenancy tribunal is quite cheap to access at $20.44 there are other barriers to access such as tenants not knowing it’s available, not having the time to file a case, feeling intimidated by landlords. We want to look at ways of lowering the accessibility barriers including funding easy to access advocacy services and assisting tenants with education.

In the long run, we’d like to reform the tenancy tribunal away from an adversarial system to a more solutions-focussed one. The tenancy tribunal should be made available to mediate without having to file a complaint.

Will your party fund tenants’ education and advocacy services?

Yes, there is around $32 million in unclaimed bond money that we would use to fund tenants’ education and advocacy services. Tenants knowing their rights and having an advocate is incredibly important to redress the power imbalance between landlords and tenants.

Will your party require all landlords and property managers to be licensed?

We think that this is a good idea that needs to be looked at further and developed. We require licenses for people to serve alcohol or drive vehicles and it seems strange that we don’t require that people who are responsible for providing housing to have a licensing system.

Does your party have any other policies that will contribute to our goal that “people can successfully challenge illegal behaviour by landlords and property managers”?

With well-funded advocacy services, a reformed tenancy tribunal and a housing market that’s been fixed we are confident that illegal behaviour by property managers and landlords will be addressed.

Will your party establish a Commissioner for Housing?

It’s not part of our party policy, but we are open to supporting the establishment of a commissioner for housing that will act to ensure that affordable housing for all is prioritized.

Does your party have any additional policies that will contribute to our goal that “the ongoing situation for people renting improves, The Tenancy Tribunal effectively upholds renters’ rights, regulations are enforced and periodically reviewed?

We will be releasing a renters rights package later on in the campaign. Our goal is to make renting an attractive and desirable option by redressing the power imbalance between landlords and tenants, upgrading the quality of rental stock and improving security for renters.

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