The Green Party has announced today that its key housing policy for the election is to deliver healthy houses for our poorest children by improving the quality of rental accommodation and rights of tenants.
The rental package is part of the Green Party's plan to build a fairer society where every child has enough to thrive.
The key policy points in the Green Party's plan to improve rental housing are:
- A Warrant of Fitness for all rented houses, to ensure all children are growing up in warm, healthy homes
- Providing greater security of tenure for families
- $3 million of extra funding to help families taking action against substandard rental housing
- Insulating another 200,000 homes, at a cost of $327 million
"More than a million adults and over 400,000 Kiwi children are now living in rental homes, but the Government has done next to nothing to improve the accommodation in which so many people now live," said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.
"As home ownership rates decline we need new policies to support renters.
"Renting is a new reality for many New Zealanders and it's time for laws around the safety, quality and security of our rental homes to be updated to reflect this.
"35 percent of New Zealanders now live in a rental property compared to 25 percent in 1990, but there has been no significant overhaul of the Residential Tenancies Act to reflect this new reality or bring our rental market into line with acceptable standard and tenant rights.
"Successive Governments have acted in the interest of landlords at the expense of renters.
"70 percent of children growing up in poverty live in rented accommodation, a lot of it poor quality. Cold damp rentals make poverty even worse for our poorest kids.
"Our rental accommodation is in a very poor state. Research shows that 44 percent of rental properties are in poor condition and over half of all renters report at least one or more major problems with their house.
"Poor quality rental housing is a direct contributor to our appalling rates of preventable hospital admissions for infectious diseases amongst our children and Third World diseases such as rheumatic fever.
"The Green Party will introduce a Warrant of Fitness and star ratings system for all rented houses. The schemes will be voluntary for the first two years, to give landlords time to adapt, but will become compulsory from 1 January 2017.
"The Warrant of Fitness will be required to meet insulation, weather-tightness, and basic service standards including heating, hot and cold tap water, toilet, a shower or a bath tub, electricity and a stove and safe wiring.
"New Zealand's tenancy laws are out of step with international norms and our high rate of people living in rental accommodation.
"At the moment rentals are not homes for too many families. Lack of secure tenancy results in high rates of transience for our poorest kids and price gouging by landlords.
"The average renting family moves every two years. This turnover is so high because renters often move in order to improve the quality of their housing and the health of their children. Our Warrant of Fitness and security of tenancy rules will help to reduce the need to move so often.
"The Green Party will amend the Residential Tenancies Act to provide tenants with the right of renewal on any tenancy. We want good tenants who follow the rules to be able to stay in their home for the long term.
"Our changes to tenancy law will mean that people renting will be able to enjoy the security and stability that is their right. It will enable tenants to put down stronger roots in a community.
"We will also ensure tenancy agreements include a formula for calculating future rent increases, and rent increases will be limited to no more than once every 12 months.
"The greatest beneficiaries of the Green Party's housing policies will be the 418,000 children in rental housing who will have a more stable, secure base for their lives.
"Of the $8 billion a year that child poverty costs New Zealand, some $3-4.5 billion of that is health related costs. Those costs will be radically reduced by the improvements to rental housing created by a Warrant of Fitness.
"We need to support people into owning their own home, but the biggest difference to housing we can make right away to over one million New Zealanders is to improve the lot of renters and the health and wellbeing of our poorest children."
More information on the package - https://www.greens.org.nz/policy/fairer-society/housing