Robertson backs Christchurch rent controls
Aspiring Labour leader Grant Robertson wants to introduce tough rules to stop Christchurch renters from continually being "gouged" in the white-hot rental market.
If elected Labour leader, he would introduce a private member's bill to get "rent stabilisation" across the city.
Robertson was in Christchurch today with the party's two other leadership candidates, David Cunliffe and Shane Jones, as they prepared for tonight's final leadership meeting.
The new Labour leader will be named on Sunday.
Robertson said his idea would be floated if he won the top job or not.
His proposal would restrict the rate of increased rent that landlords and developers could charge tenants annually.
The policy would have a "sunset clause" of between three and five years.
It would run alongside a fresh home-building programme that would see hundreds of new homes built across the region under his leadership.
New homes would be exempt from his rental policy.
His move is expected to be slammed by some in the property market, but Robertson said "things are out of control in this city" and government intervention was needed.
People charged "crazy" rents to people living in garages and caravans, and an overall rent rise of 12 per cent across the city in the past year had forced his hand, he said.
"The market, which is normally operating properly, isn't and we have a duty to intervene."
Robertson said his idea needed lots of detailed work.
He was unsure what kind of rental restrictions were needed, and the idea had not yet gone through normal Labour policy groups.
Robertson said "the time has come" to put measures in place that would relieve the burden renters faced.
Rent stabilisation worked in about 40 countries and was desperately needed in Christchurch for a time.
"I know some landlords and developers may struggle with this idea, but the reality is renters are being gouged at the moment," Robertson said.
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