Poor tenants

New Zealand rental townhouses

I came across this article on Stuff and I have to admit it struck a chord. Quote:

It’s not just mums with six kids to six different dads who are on the streets. It’s not just non-working parents who struggle.

It’s not only addicts, or people with huge amounts of debt who find themselves with nowhere to live.

I’m a mum of two. I work, I pay my rent, I clean the house and I don’t smoke, don’t party and don’t own pets.

Yes, I do have two children, which I realise is my choice. I make sure they don’t miss out on the basics: I pay my bills, they’re fed and clothed. I’ll also point out that when I had them, housing was affordable and findable – I didn’t see a crisis looming. End quote.

This woman works, has children by choice, and has always intended to bring them up responsibly. I cannot fault that. Quote:

What I don’t have is a secure home for them. We have spent the last four years going from ‘long term’ home to ‘long term’ home – only for it to be taken away from us because the landlord has either sold it or decided to move in.

I have been in my current home for a grand total of a month, after my previous house was sold. I have just been given 42 days to leave.

I don’t blame any of the landlords. Life happens and situations change.

But I am at my wits’ end wondering why it’s so damned hard to find long term security for my children.

You see, it wouldn’t matter if I had no children, 10 children, three dogs or drank all my money away. I would find myself in the same scenario as above. Facing homelessness. Yet again. End quote.

Now, if people who work cannot afford a place to live then something is wrong. She doesn’t mention the children’s father, but nevertheless, it is reasonable to expect that someone who works should be able to afford rental accommodation and house their children. She clearly knows it is only a matter of time before she will not be able to do that.

The media prints this stuff and it is meant to draw sympathy. In most cases I find myself feeling no sympathy at all but I do in this case, but the media never points out the obvious. It is government policy that is causing her situation.

In reality, it is a perfect storm. We have a severe housing shortage. This has been caused by a number of things, but the main ones are high levels of immigration and councils dragging the chain on land release and building consents. These are the things that mostly affect those who want to buy homes for themselves. The problems facing people like this lady are mainly caused by a severe shortage of rental properties. The reason for this is because landlords are being driven out of the market by government policy.

Most of us (admit it) don’t generally want beneficiaries as tenants but this lady is not a beneficiary, she is trying to do everything right by her children. You can speculate that she is a terrible tenant and landlords want to get rid of her, but you have to admit, she doesn’t sound like that sort of tenant. She is facing the inevitable consequence of landlord bashing. People do not want to be landlords anymore. Quote:

The system is broken, and something has to be done. With my rent payments I should be able to afford a mortgage. I should HAVE a mortgage. But with so many tenancies ended too soon, my deposit is only a quarter of what it should be.

I doubt I’m the only one who works hard and does the right things and still finds themselves in a precarious living situation.

So where does one go from here? I don’t know what the solution to the system is, but I know it’s failing everyone at the moment – tenants and landlords. It’s failing would-be homebuyers who face extra hurdles just to get a deposit together. End quote.

The system is certainly failing people like her and the reason why is because the attitude towards landlords is dreadful. They provide an essential social service, they save the state millions of dollars, yet they are constantly bombarded with new regulations meaning that they have to provide housing for their tenants that in some cases is much better than the houses they live in themselves.

It makes no sense that rental housing has to be at a higher standard than private housing, there is a basic flaw with that argument. The argument says: if you can afford your own house, you can live in a hovel, if you own a rental, it has to reach a very high standard. Even if your tenant cannot afford to pay a market rent. Even if your tenant trashes your house.

No wonder landlords are selling up in droves.

I don’t know exactly where this will all end but I do know what needs to happen. The government needs to swallow some very large dead rats and start encouraging people to become landlords. Get rid of the Bright Line Test, the requirements for insulation (unless it is government subsidised), the threats about rental warrants of fitness, the threats about ringfencing losses, and make it worthwhile to become a landlord and accept that even if landlords make a bit of money on their rentals, they still provide an essential public service that we will struggle to replace.

As this unfortunate tenant has found out. Quote:

I don’t know how much more of this uncertainty I can take. My kids don’t deserve this. What kind of country are we bringing our children up in that we can’t even get basic housing right? End quote.

I agree with her about that but so long as landlords are treated as fatcats, nothing will change for her.


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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