Candidate Iona Pannett answers Renters United’s questions
VOTE HOUSING: LOCAL BODY 2022
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Renters United asked every candidate in the Pukehīnau/Lambton Ward 17 questions about the issues that most concern renters in their ward. Here are Iona Pannett’s responses in full.
Rapid fire questions
Are you a renter? No
Do you own any properties? Yes
Do you support the Renters United Healthy Homes Commitment? Yes
Do you commit to funding tenant advocacy? Yes
Do you support councils retaining ownership an expanding supply of council housing? Yes
Will you lobby for IRRS to be extended to councils? Yes
Do you commit to densifying inner city suburbs? No
Will you commit to using your platform to abolish the ratepayers roll? Yes
What actions would you take to improve stability and security for private renters?
• Advocate to Government to change the laws to facilitate compulsory longer terms for rentals rather than just one year. Ideally, everyone should have security of tenure for as long as they like. This is particularly important for whānau with children, older people and those on low incomes struggling with other social and economic challenges.
• Facilitating more building to allow those who wish to the chance to move into their own home. Renting should only be an option is this is the individual’s free choice under current legislation.
• Advocate to the government to build many more homes which a wide variety of people would live in to ensure that it becomes common place to live in a home owned by the government rather than just being targeted at the most vulnerable. This is an effective way to increase social equity and to reduce barriers between communities.
• Build up the community housing sector who often make good landlords by giving them access to land at lower costs and grant funding.
• Investigate the possibility of limiting the numbers of houses individuals can rent out. We should not create wealth in our communities by renting houses to others.
How will you ensure all council tenants have security of tenure?
• Continue to fight to ensure that Council owns and controls city housing to ensure democratic accountability and that there are no asset sales of the portfolio over the coming decades. I was the only councillor to oppose council losing control of its housing through the establishment of a CHP.
• Change policy settings to give tenancy rights for life
• Work with tenants and social service providers to enable tenants to move into their own homes under sweat equity schemes.
• Introduce rent controls for tenants so that they can afford to live in Council housing and continue to advocate to the Government to give Councils the IRRS.
What steps will you take to end homelessness in Wellington?
• Homelessness is a complex phenomenon which requires a multi-pronged approach including:
o Continue to fund DCM (of which I’m an ex-Board member) to do their excellent work
o Continue to work with the Government and Kāinga Ora on developing new housing for those who don’t have a home
o Increase funding for social services to support those without a home at Council
o Advocate to Government to increase their social service provision to do the same
If elected, would you take steps to tackle persistent bad landlords who do not meet their obligations to renters in your area? If so, what?
• Establish a Council inspection service as we do for restaurants and cafes to check on rental homes to ensure that they meet basic good standards.
• A publicity campaign with appropriate information to let landlords know what our expectations are of them and to let tenants know their rights.
• Continue to fund Community Law to advocate for tenants to take cases to the Tenancy Tribunal. I supported the initial grant for funding for this organisation.
• Introduce an Annual survey of renters so that the Council has good information about the experience of being a renter in Wellington.
What do you think Council should do to address power imbalance between landlords and tenants? If nothing, why?
• Investigate setting up an Advisory Group of renters for Wellington City Council to ensure decision makers have very detailed information on rental homes to allow the Council to enforce and advocate more effectively.
• As above, set up an inspection service to inspect homes
• Also as below, build more homes to give renters choice in the market
• Work in partnership with mana whenua and other groups to develop culturally appropriate housing.
Would you advocate for additional powers or resources from Central Government to address the housing crisis (such as legislating for Rent Control), if so what and how?
• Funding for an inspection service as noted above would be helpful as this is partly a central government responsibility
• Setting a mandatory Rental Warrant of Fitness would also be helpful and giving Councils full explicit powers to regulate landlords is necessary. Council’s legal advice is that the Health Act doesn’t give us sufficient powers. This is contestable but this issue needs to be resolved.
• More advice on how to improve existing stock so the buildings are warm, dry, don’t contribute to climate change and are earthquake resilient.
• A review of the Building Act in relation to earthquake prone buildings, the regulatory burden is heavy on owners which flows through to renters in terms of cost. Everyone has a right be safe in a home but the implementation of the legislation should be done more slowly to give people time to find the money to strengthen.
What do you think are the main reasons rents in Wellington are increasing? How would you ensure rents in Wellington are affordable?
We are getting some anecdotal evidence that in some cases rents are decreasing but in other case they are not. Cheap loans has allowed too many people to come into the market and buy up large numbers of property whilst not enough homes have been built, creating a perfect storm.
Building more homes and converting more buildings to homes will create some more supply in the market and give renters more options and choices about where they live.
As above, I also believe that Council housing should have rent caps set so it can be affordable. Accessing the IRRS is also critical. The government on this point has been very unhelpful.
Safe and healthy homes
What actions (in contrast to or in conjunction with our Healthy Homes Commitment) would you take to improve the quality of private rental housing in your ward and in your city?
I support your plan for Healthier Homes. Ideally I would like central government to fund this work but seeing as they are reluctant, I’m campaigning on an inspection service funded by ratepayers so we can get onto this work as soon as possible. The onus should not be on the tenant to ensure their home is habitable.
Additionally, converting more old office buildings to good quality homes will mean that more people can live in decent homes. The Council is working on a few of these buildings but we need to scale up the process so we can have even more homes.
Master planning along the planned mass transit route will allow the city to develop more homes in good locations which should be done to a good standard, particularly for important groups like bus drivers, artists, students, those on low incomes, those from ethnic minorities, Rainbow community members and so on.
Anything else you want to share?
• Implement a policy for inclusionary zoning which will require developers to build affordable housing or to pay a contribution to the Community Housing sector to build affordable homes (this sector supports this policy which I initiated at Council)
• For renters in high rise buildings, give specific support after an earthquake to ensure that their home is safe and give more information about owners’ obligations to make their home safe.
• Change Council policy so tenants can have pets in their homes if they so wish
• Advocate to government to allow renters to have a pet as a right in all other kinds of housing
NB Please note that I own one home, bought a number of years when housing was more affordable. I do not own an investment property and do not agree with this as a strategy for building wealth.
Please also note that I agree with some aspects of the NPS-US and the Medium Density Standards but not all of them. So it is not a yes/no for me. I support lower rise buildings (to cut down on high costs associated with living in an earthquake prone city) and higher density (allowing people to build more homes on existing large sections is a great idea as long as it doesn’t have significant adverse impacts on our natural environment which we rely on for life), using the building stock we already have and very high standards for new buildings to ensure that they do not increase carbon emissions.
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In: Elections 2022, Wellington. .
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