Human rights abuses – ‘guilty’ landlords

negligent landlords

Some New Zealand landlords are so neglectful, the properties they let contravene basic human rights. They’re damp, squalid, cold, neglected and expensive.

Yet in many, rents keep going up.

While rent hikes can reflect the costs landlords face, there are standards that must be maintained, according to Wellington Property Investors Association president Peter Ambrose.

Passing those costs onto tenants was how landlords kept their rentals to a high standard, he explains. Conversely, landlords also need to do whatever maintenance is required.

It’s unacceptable for landlords to rent properties which should not be lived in, Ambrose says. In fact, maintaining them was ultimately a basic human right.

Successive governments have failed New Zealand’s renters, the Green Party says.

It has recently conducted a survey which confirms New Zealand 2023 is not a good place for many of the country’s 1.4 million renters.

If it were part of the next Government, the Greens promise a Renters’ Rights Bill.

Rental survey findings

Many landlords are quick to hike rents but slow to fix homes, the Green Party survey found. Renters are living in damp, mouldy houses, coping with rent rises and accepting insecure tenancies.

In Wellington, one in five renting households pay over 50 percent of their weekly income on rent, the Greens discovered.

One tenant told RNZ the state of one Wellington house she rented was so bad she and her partner moved out.

Parts of the house were unstable, damaged and damp.

Among the long list of problems she mentioned were the fireplace with cracks so big you could fit your fingers in them, and a deck that was falling apart.

Complaints dismissed

The woman who spoke to RNZ said she informed her landlord the bedroom leaked.

The landlord decided to do nothing as the leak happened only intermittently. Ditto to problems with the neglected bathroom which had mushrooms growing in it. A variety of mushrooms.

Landlords with multiple properties make big profits, the woman said. In her view, they should treat their rentals like a business and invest.

For some of them “it’s quite apparent that rather than investing in repairing or maintaining these properties, they’re just kind of degrading them,” she added.

Tenants health at risk

The Government’s new Healthy Homes Standards for heating, insulation and ventilation came into effect in July 2021.

Landlords with existing tenancies, however, needn’t comply until 2025. Negligent landlords ignoring evidence of substandard accommodation are driving many tenants out of their rentals.

The mental health issues that follow are manifold.

One tenant says he is offered only annual leases. At renewal, there’s a rent increase. He can’t afford any more of those, he says. If there are, he’ll be driven to return to his family home.

Then there’s the fear a landlord won’t renew a lease. This leads to tenants tiptoeing around their homes, so there’s no “just cause” to be kicked out.

“That can be extremely anxiety-inducing and debilitating, and I feel quite powerless at the end of the lease cycle,” the tenant says.

Futhermore, few landlords allow pets, which adds stress to pet owners, he says.


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News category: New Zealand.

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