England’s new regulations to protect tenants from retaliatory evictions

Tenant organisations in England are celebrating new regulations which give renters new protection – protection which New Zealand renters already have, and which has recently been extended. It’s a good time to reflect on that protection and its limitations. Private tenants have the right to live in homes that meet certain standards. If tenants’ houses are…More

Minor changes to existing provisions!

Something crazy happens at the moment. A tenant takes her landlord to the Tenancy Tribunal because it’s below legal standards: it’s damp, for example. The Tenancy Tribunal concludes, “yes, that’s illegal”. The Tribunal can order the landlord to bring the property up to standard. But the landlord can decline to do so. In that case,…More

How high is the rent?

A couple of weeks ago, the worrying issue of high rents in Christchurch came to renewed attention when Trademe reported that rents had risen 14% in Christchurch over the past year. Minister of Housing Nick Smith disputed the figures, and said that according to data from the Tenancy Bond Service and the Consumer Price Index,…More

What to do about renting

There’s a lot of bad press about renters. At one end of the extreme there’s Renters, a show about “the dirtiest, dimmest and most despicable renters imaginable” which warns you against even living next door to any one who rents. There’s the bank by my house, encouraging me to get a mortgage by showing a photo…More

The sale of council housing in Hamilton

From next week, community housing providers have the option of purchasing Hamilton City Council pensioner housing. What does this mean for the future of social housing in Hamilton? Social housing (housing provided at below market rents) in New Zealand is provided by the government (through Housing New Zealand), councils, and a number of community housing…More

The unwritten laws of housing affordability

“There used to be a sort of unwritten law that a man should give a day’s pay for a week’s rent, but that cannot be done now.” – Alfred Washer, House and Land Agent, 1912 One hundred years on, there are a few familiar aspects of Alfred Washer’s thoughts on  housing affordability, which he related to…More

Building houses for poor people in 1912 and 2012

The New Zealand Government was concerned about the cost of living/housing, and directed Commissions to investigate the issue. One of the conclusions of both Commissions, a century apart, are remarkably similar. Industry does not build housing for “working-men” (1912 language) or the “lower quartiles” (2012 language). One real estate agent told the Royal Commission on the…More

Activism for state housing

The government’s plans to sell state housing to community housing providers only come as a surprise to some. As Alan Johnson from CPAG has pointed out, the government was talking about this long before the election, but for some reason the MPs were rarely asked about it. Perhaps it’s attaching a specific number to the sales that…More