Renting stories aimed at cutting through political noise

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Social rights campaigner Laura O'Connell is leading research groups to source stories from renters around the country. The research is aimed at encouraging landlords to provide better conditions for rental properties.

With winter setting in, ActionStation and Renters United have teamed up to launch a new campaign to improve the lives of renters.

Laura O'Connell, spokesperson for ActionStation says, “We're collecting stories from people all around Aotearoa who are renting and the reason that we're doing is that is to gather personal stories of peoples experience.”

So far over 250 people have submitted stories. Laura O'Connell says the stories highlight the challenges and insecurity that many renters currently live with.

“More than half of New Zealanders are renters which means that they don't own their homes of course and what's happening is that renters don't have a lot of control over the quality of their homes and because of that we're seeing more and more stories of people getting sick.”

Green Party MP Marama Davidson says, “What we know is that over 42,000 hospital admissions a year in children’s hospitals are linked to unhealthy cold damp homes and sadly over 1600 annual winter deaths of our pakeke are also linked to cold damp homes.”

Laura says that for many families rental conditions are substandard, “Yes we want to put some of the onus on landlords and some of the onus needs to be on tenants to push their landlords but ultimately this is an issue for Government to deal with.”

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Tenancy Services website states that houses should be maintained at healthy livable standards.

Marama Davidson says, “We need to set a bottom line and ensure that all our homes are safe, warm and healthy and can be heated in a way that is efficient for whānau.”

Laura O'Connell says, “If the government set higher quality minimum standards for housing then landlords have to follow those minimum standards.”

ActionStation and Renters United say the goal is to generate a public conversation about the problems with renting and create momentum for improvements to NZ's residential tenancy laws.