Rentals register backed

A Christchurch City councillor hopes the Government will set up a national register of residential rental properties, as a local scheme could prove too costly.

In March, councillors voted unanimously to explore options for setting up a register in the city.

It was the idea of the Tenants Protection Association and part of measures being considered to help address the city's rental accommodation shortage.

Council housing committee chairman Cr Glenn Livingstone said the register could cost up to $1.5 million a year, which would be offset by charging registration fees.

Given the financial pressure the council was under, he suggested it was best led at a national level.

"We need a way to enable people to be held accountable under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986," Livingstone said.

The register would contain information on the availability of rental properties, whether houses were fit to live in, and on which landlords and agencies were charging letting and renewal fees.

Livingstone said it should be a national register because there were other areas in New Zealand where an "anything-goes" environment appeared to be taking hold.

"Essentially, it is about improving the standard of our housing stock in a country where, from census to census, home ownership is dropping and the numbers of those in rentals in increasing," he said.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE) is trialling a warrant of fitness for Housing New Zealand rentals, and as part of that work a national register has been proposed.

Livingstone said the committee would write to MBIE urging it to pursue a national register and warrant of fitness programme.

If it did not, he would push for a local register, if it was achievable at a reasonable cost.

The Press