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Rental Reality Survey Highlights Urgent Need For Fair Rent Initiative

The Manawatu Tenants Union (MTU) releases the findings of its recent survey, revealing a stark reality for renters in Palmerston North and across New Zealand. The survey underscores the urgent need for action to address rental affordability and the next level of concern – tenants' fear of having nowhere to go if they cannot afford their rent.

The survey, conducted by MTU, received 203 responses exposing how tenants are being crushed by excessive rents devouring over half their incomes. Rent unaffordability emerged as a critical issue, with 83% facing unaffordable rents. Alarmingly, 30% reported spending over 50% of their income on rent, with some as high as 70% - levels considered severely unaffordable by international standards. As the new government fails to take sufficient steps, MTU says bolder measures are needed from both authorities and advocates.

The release highlights the prevailing sense of powerlessness among tenants, with 89% expressing little confidence in the new government's ability to positively impact the housing market. This sentiment underscores the urgent need for decisive action to address the systemic challenges faced by renters.

"With stagnant incomes, limited housing supply inflating costs, and renter safeguards under attack, the situation is drastically tilted against overburdened tenants," said Cam Jenkins, MTU Coordinator. "Conventional efforts have failed to spur urgently needed reforms, achieving change may necessitate tenant industrial action."

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In response to the survey findings, MTU proposes the implementation of a Fair Rent Initiative, which directly addresses the pressing issue of rent affordability. The initiative acknowledges that increasing housing supply alone is insufficient and advocates for regulatory intervention to achieve fair rents, ensuring that all tenants have access to affordable housing options as a human right. MTU encourages organisations to sign up to the initiative.

To deal with the need for access to housing, MTU calls for the expansion of social housing provision from both local and central governments to address the pressing need for more affordable housing options. This recommendation underscores the importance of ensuring that all tenants have access to safe, affordable, and secure housing.

MTU demands:

  1. Emergency rent control policies capping increases at rates matched to local income and inflation levels.
  2. Rapidly accelerated public/social housing expansion funded by levies on investment property owners.
  3. Tenant ratification process for any rent hike above inflation, right to reject unjustified increases without retaliation.
  4. Bring back balance to the housing system by increasing tenant advocate funding to enable organizations such as MTU and others across the Tenant Advocates Network to provide dedicated tenant advocacy and support.
  5. Reinstate the Property Management Regulations.

Manawatu Tenants Union remains committed to advocating for the rights and well-being of renters, working towards fair and equitable housing for all.

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