The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services is applauding the Government’s proposed changes to rental laws that aim to provide greater housing security to Kiwi renters.
“Today’s announcement of rental law changes is another step towards a more just and fair rental market, especially for the tens of thousands of people struggling with high rents and low incomes,” said New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) Policy Advisor, Paul Barber.
“At present the Aotearoa New Zealand private rental market is a very unequal place,” said Paul Barber.
“Most landlords want to do the right thing, but the combination of lack of knowledge and skills, plus a group of property managers and landlords that have little respect for the rules, adds up to a market where unfairness and injustice are rife.”
NZCCSS reports that nearly nine tenths of all rental households rent in the private rental market. That means around 160,000 children living in poverty live in rental housing and they are likely to remain in rental housing for much of their childhood.
People living with a disability are also significantly more likely to be living in rental housing.
“The Government’s new focus on improving security of tenure, controlling rent increases, placing further controls on boarding houses, and more effectively enforcing renting laws are all overdue, and will go some way toward righting the current imbalance in the rental market.”
“This is a once in a decade chance to bring about change that will help overcome the very large and growing inequalities in our communities”, said Paul Barber. Anna Cox from Hamilton-based Poverty Action Waikato agrees.
“Hours of time each week are spent by social service agencies in a desperate hunt for available rental accomodation and landlords willing to rent to some of our most vulnerable people.” she said.
“Landlords currently have the power to determine who and how people are housed. The proposed laws will help address the considerable power inequities evident in the rental market.”
NZCCSS members are pleased to see that the Government is asking for public feedback on law changes to make life better for renters.
“We urge people to take the chance to have their voice and their story heard to help bring about change for renters,” said Paul Barber.
“The Plan to Fix Renting launched last month by Renters United is a great resource of ideas for positive change which the Government’s proposals can be measured against.” he said.
“We know from the experience of Christian social service agencies that a good quality rental house at an affordable rent makes a big difference in helping people to improve their lives.”
Increasing rental housing security will mean more Kiwis can be confident that they will have homes, which in turn leads being able to plan and think about the future, to more easily find and keep a job, to help children succeed in education, and to look after health needs.
The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services represent six church networks: the Anglican Care Network, the Baptist, Catholic and Presbyterian social services agencies, as well as the Methodist and the Salvation Army churches. Collectively, these six members include 213 separate provider agencies located in 55 towns and cities throughout New Zealand.
NZCCSS members deliver a wide range of services that cover such areas as child and family services, services for older people, food bank and emergency services, housing, budgeting, disability, addictions, community development and employment services.