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Greens call for action on supercharged rents

2 November, 2004

Greens call for action on supercharged rents

Green MP Sue Bradford warned today that the review of the Residential Tenancies Act, as announced by Building Issues Minister Margaret Wilson, will not give New Zealanders what they need - affordable housing.

"I agree with the Minister that the Residential Tenancies Act is overdue for a review," said Ms Bradford, the Green Party's Housing spokesperson, "but I'm concerned that the review will not give New Zealanders who rent what they really need, which is more affordable rents.

"The Green Party is calling for assistance for renters to buy their own homes, and a major expansion in social housing, including state housing and community-owned housing.

"Social housing is now such a comparatively small part of the rental market that it no longer puts any real downward pressure on rents in the rest of the private rental market.

"Every New Zealander should have the opportunity to own their own home but the overheated rental market means that many people are struggling to make ends meet, let alone save up for a deposit on a house.

"High rental prices have also undermined security of tenure because people are moving on when they can't afford their rent, which is causing serious social problems. Children of transient families, pushed from house to house in the search for an affordable rent, have suffered, especially in education.

"For the review to be effective, it needs to look at the whole range of social problems related to issue of rising rents and be prepared to fix them," she said.

Ms Bradford rejected Treasury's assumption that increased economic growth will make home ownership more affordable.

"Treasury's economists need to actually get out of their office and see what's really happening in New Zealand. We've had strong growth in recent years but housing is less affordable than ever before because wages have remained relatively static for the past 20 years while house prices have gone through the roof.

"The accommodation supplement has worked like a band-aid on a broken leg. It has had the effect of pushing up rents while providing a further subsidy to property investors and landlords," she said.

ENDS

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