The Green Party has released a bold set of housing initiatives that will put home ownership within reach for tens of thousands of Kiwi families, and modernise tenancy law to ensure renters have the right to higher quality housing and more stable tenancy.
The package, entitled Home for Life, contains three new policy planks:
- Progressive Ownership will allow families that are otherwise locked out of the housing market a path way to home ownership by leveraging the Government's low cost of capital. Families will be able to live in a government-built home, making a basic weekly payment to cover the Crown's investment cost and making flexible payments in addition to that amount that purchase equity in the property off the Crown until they own the property outright. No deposit would be required and if families moved out of the home before owning it the equity investment made to that point would be paid out.
- Warrant of Fitness for rentals written into law that will ensure that all rental accommodation meets a set of basic criteria to be fit for families to live in - insulation standards, weather-tightness, and the provision of basic amenities such as hot and cold water and a stove.
- Secure tenancy will be provided by amending the law to ensure that rent increases are limited to once a year and must be in accordance with a formula specified in the tenancy agreement, and that tenants will have the right to renew fixed term leases when they expire.
"All New Zealanders should have a warm, safe, stable and healthy home. Our Home for Life package delivers meaningful changes that will move more Kiwi families into an affordable home and provide better housing for those who rent," said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.
"The Green Party is offering low and middle income New Zealanders a real shot at owning their own home. This policy will unlock the dream of home ownership to the many low and middle income Kiwi families for whom home ownership is currently an unaffordable pipe dream.
"Unlike the Government that is tinkering with housing policy, the Greens are determined to open a clear pathway to home ownership for families, and also make sure that renters and their children get a decent standard of housing.
"Progressive Ownership will create a pathway to home ownership for families who currently cannot afford a mortgage on even a modest home.
"There are hundreds of thousands of Kiwi families who are spending their lives paying rent to a landlord, rather than building up wealth and an asset of their own. Progressive Ownership passes on the Crown's low interest rate to those families, so that they can own their own home at an affordable cost.
"Progressive Ownership is affordable for the government and offers smart stimulus to the economy. Because the families cover the Crown's cost of capital, there's no net cost or debt servicing to the Crown.
"This policy echoes the State Advances scheme that saw former governments, both National and Labour, use the low sovereign borrowing rate to help young families to buy homes in the post-war period, which led to high levels of home ownership and a fairer society.
"The Warrant of Fitness for rentals creates basic standards for rental housing. Just as we expect the food we buy to be prepared in hygienic conditions and electrical goods we purchase to meet safety standards, we should have the right to expect that when we pay rent the house can pass basic tests that ensure they are fit to live in.
"The vast majority of landlords are good business operators who make sure their rentals meet these standards anyway, but too many do not. The horror stories of children growing up in rotting rentals lacking in basic services must end.
"Our tenancy laws are out of date and don't provide adequate protection to the increasing number of New Zealanders who now rent. Secure tenancy will give families greater security in their rental homes and allow them to put down roots in their communities.
"Limiting rent increases to once a year and requiring that the formula for calculating them be included in tenancy agreements will protect tenants from arbitrary and unexpected rent hikes.
"Allowing tenants a right of renew on rental agreements will encourage a more long-term approach to landlord-tenant relationships and redress the power imbalance that often exists.
"Security of tenure will allow tenants to request landlords fix problems such as maintenance issues without fear that it will lead to their tenancy not being renewed.
"Kiwis now have a stark choice: they can choose National's failed policy of standing by while housing becomes more and more unaffordable, or they can choose the Green path that will make bold changes to deliver better quality and more affordable homes for our families," said Mrs Turei.