Apparently the government isn’t responsible for the standard of private rentals

The Media party have started their next attack on the government, this time to outline that some landlords are scum but the government has some responsibility for it.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has admitted that it does not check if the accommodation it refers people to is suitable to live in.

MSD National Commissioner Penny Rounthwaite says those kinds of checks are not the ministry’s responsibility.

“Our role is to help out with the accommodation cost people are facing and we pay around about a billion dollars every year for accommodation costs to people that are on benefits or that are on superannuation,” she told Newshub.

“Tenants need to make sure that the accommodation is suitable for themselves. That’s a role that any tenant has if it’s you or I that are renting, [I’ll] make sure that it’s suitable for my situation,” she added.The news comes after a Newshub investigation found that there are people living in illegal garages, referred to by Work and Income.

What on earth are illegal garages?   I suspect they are legal garages rented out to people, which is also legal. 

Going undercover, a journalist posing as a potential renter was offered a room for his wife and two children at a property already filled with nine tenants for $280 a week.

The journalist then inquires about the garage on the property, which the property manager described as a two bedroom unit with a lounge for $420 a week.

There is no toilet or shower in the garage.

Former tenant Jacine Greaves told Newshub that tenants in the garage were “desperate vulnerable people who had no other choice, people who had hit rock bottom”.

It is clearly up to people to figure out where they want to live, how much they pay and what they get in return for paying it. That doesn’t stop the Media party from pushing this as a failure by the government.


I’d rather live in a garage without a toilet than lie under the bushes in a park. But, of course, I’d rather have a nice, dry, warm 3-bedroom home.  I also would like a pool, a large private garden maintained by the landlord, and the the use of the boat that is parked at the back of the property.

But none of that is relevant to the government being responsible for having to check out the quality of privately owned accommodation.

The person quoted as a “former tenant”, Jacine Greaves, was in the news earlier this year as part of the Poverty Action Group to highlight a negative story about WINZ.  What would be the odds that she actually formerly rented the very same garage in this “undercover” story?


– Yahoo! NZ, but originally a Mediaworks/Newshub hit job

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