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Migrant Workers - In response to Press article

Media Release Migrant Workers Christchurch 22nd July 2014

In response to the Article in The Saturday Press 19th July

Tenants Protection Association (TPA) has been concerned about the treatment of migrant workers for many years now and is bitterly disappointed that bad practice continues post-Earthquakes.

The legal requirements of a Landlord in relation to their tenants depend on the nature of the arrangement. If the housing is provided by the employer for their workers as part of their employment, this is called a Service Tenancy and is covered by the Residential Tenancies Act.

The Residential Tenancies Act (1986) (RTA) outlines Landlord and Tenant rights and responsibilities.

The section ‘Landlord Responsibilities’ within it also describe the requirement to provide properties in a reasonable standard and to comply with all relevant by-laws and health and safety legislation.

Boarding Houses are also covered by the RTA but there are some differences, for example shorter notices to vacate and the right to include House Rules.

Many workers find their own accommodation when they arrive in New Zealand but Filipino workers in particular have housing arranged for them by third parties.

Skilled Migrant Business Services (part of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce) and other agencies do a lot of good work assisting employers and new migrant workers.

Despite the care that many employers take to ensure good pastoral care of their workers, they are let down by the bad behaviour of others with exploitative practice who take advantage of their self-manoeuvred position of power.

Many workers don’t want to draw attention to their living situation and are deeply reluctant to assert their housing and rights, something concerned employers, co-workers and support agencies struggle with when they want to know what to do to help the workers improve their situation. The workers are often isolated or unfamiliar with tenancy rules in New Zealand.

TPA recommends that anyone with concerns about housing and employment related breaches affecting migrant workers should contact the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for advice or to report suspected unlawful practices.

TPA recommends that any employer or Landlord wishing to provide accommodation for workers seek proper tenancy advice before entering into any tenancy agreements with workers. Whether the employer provides the accommodation or not they can still take care of their workers by taking an interest in any housing issues affecting their staff.

Any employer wanting TPA to talk with or visit them or their workers about tenancy issues affecting their staff can contact TPA on (03) 379 2297 or info@tpa.org.nz.


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