New Zealand / Politics

Greens urge tenants to share stories to bolster tenancy reform

10:32 am on 6 June 2023

Chlöe Swarbrick says there is a strong lobby opposed to any moves to improve the experiences of tenants. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

The Green Party hopes its campaign targeted at renters who have endured substandard accommodation will open the eyes of some MPs.

The party is today launching a campaign asking for people to come forward with their stories about what it describes as subpar experiences of renting in Aotearoa.

StatsNZ figures show renters are less likely to be satisfied with their accommodation than homeowners.

Auckland Central's Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick told Morning Report she had been most successful in achieving reform in areas like drug law reform and alcohol policy by drawing on the stories of those most-affected in the community and making it impossible for government to ignore.

"And that's part of the point is to make it impossible to ignore and to ensure that the collected shared power of the one and a half million renters in this country is felt and felt deeply and profoundly specifically in election year."

Whenever there was a suggestion for rental protection there was a powerful lobby opposed to the suggestions so that was why it was also important for renters to speak about their experiences, she said.

Swarbrick said tenancy reforms in this country have not gone far enough.

She used the example of Healthy Homes standards which put the onus on tenants to take their landlord or property manager to the Tenancy Tribunal "which is an incredibly expensive arduous process".

It also risked damaging the relationship between the two parties, Swarbrick said.

The Greens believed a rental warrant of fitness would go a long way to fixing those issues.

An affordable warm dry home was a basic human right but it was being denied to many of the 1.5 million renters in Aotearoa.

Economic rules failed to prevent speculation and did not protect tenants, Swarbrick said.

Many politicians who were homeowners might not appreciate how bad it could be for renters.

Parliament was disproportionately filled with landlords, she said.

Renters wanting to participate can do so via the Greens website.

"And that's part of the point is to make it impossible to ignore" - Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick

Electoral reform

Swarbrick said she supported most of the recommendations into the country' electoral system which were announced today.

She said the independent panel of legal experts that conducted the year-long review had taken a common sense approach.

It recommends the voting age be lowered to 16, a 3.5 percent party threshold, and a public referendum on a four-year Parliamentary term.

Swarbrick told Morning Report she hoped the recommendations could be considered outside the political domain.