Up to 50 per cent of New Zealanders are now renting, says expert
Up to 50 per cent of New Zealanders are renters, and in a market stacked in favour of the landlord, an Otago University professor says.
Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman was speaking at a meeting held by the Labour Party at Wellington's Victoria University on Thursday, to discuss the current rental crisis in the capital.
She said the decline in state housing had brought young families, vulnerable renters, and the elderly into the "bidding war" already experienced by students.
An upcoming study funded by the taxpayer would look at producing a rental warrant of fitness to improve security for renters, she said.
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The meeting was in part response to Prime Minister Bill English's comments that the current demand for rentals was "a problem of success", which the Wellington City Council was already trying to address.
Wellington is currently 3590 dwellings short of the number it is estimated to need.
Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford outlined to the meeting a four-point plan to tackle the problem, which included "rewriting tenancy rules" to provide better security for renters, and "dealing to property speculation" with income tax on capital gains.
Increasing the supply of properties in the market, and public housing stock were the other points of the plan.
Renters United spokesman Robert Whitaker raised concerns about the growth of property management companies in the city.
He said they were not tenancy managers, and their business model relied on turnover and "fixed-term tenancies help them push the price up to get top dollar".