Candidate Michael Morris answers Renters United’s questions

September 17, 2022 10:48 pm


Michael Morris


Likely to make things better for renters

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Renters United asked every Mayoral candidate in Auckland 17 questions about the issues that most concern renters in their ward. Here are Michael Morris’ 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? No answer provided

Stable homes

What actions would you take to improve stability and security for private renters?

Support rent-to-buy schemes, long term rental schemes. This can be done in partnership with developers in return for cheaper leases/prices of council car parks. Increase house supply overall by turning most council carparks into housing, such as is planned for Old Papatoetoe, encouraging apartment and unit developers to have a pool of electric cars for resident use instead of one car park each. This will save space and allow more housing.

Golf courses to be turned over to mixed use/housing and parks.

Council owned or subsidised properties to allow companion animals. We are the animals party after all!

How will you ensure all council tenants have security of tenure?

As above.

What steps will you take to end homelessness in Auckland?

I visited the Sikh temple near where I live. It is clean and warm and offers free vegan and vegetarian food at all times of day. Council could partnership with places of worship, City Mission and other community centres to provide shelter, showers and food.

I regularly attend outreach events in Queen St where we show videos of slaughterhouse footage and other animal cruelty so that people can make the connection with food on their plate and cruelty. Homeless people often talk to us. It seems that what they want is public toilets and showers that are open when they need them. I spoke to one who decried the vandalism and slovenliness of fellow ‘streeties’ saying they give them all a bad name. This suggests that council could partner with a group made up of homeless people so they can monitor and control their own behaviour.

Again, a lot of the problem is not that these people don’t have rights, but that they don’t know them. Trained advocates who work with them, like AAAP work with beneficiaries would be useful. I had a friend who was an economic refugee, living on the street, and was terrified she would be deported if she asked for help. A few of us were able to drag her to a doctor, get antibiotics for her sores and get her an emergency benefit and a place to live.

I have another friend, educated and intelligent, from mainland China who was too frightened to seek help for an abusive relationship because she thought she would be thrown on the street with no support. Especially for immigrants, they need to be made aware that New Zealand is not an uncaring society and that they do have rights.

Meaningful enforcement

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?

I have been a landlord, a tenant and a property manager. I also spoke at the Tenancy tribunal over a renter of a state house who was threatening neighbours. Mostly I have found the tenancy tribunal to be fair to all parties. If we are talking about ‘persistently bad landlords’, those are usually the ones with overpriced and substandard boarding houses. Improving quality and quantity of housing overall should curtain demand for these. But I would certainly support using the Health Act as detailed in your document.

What do you think Council should do to address power imbalance between landlords and tenants? If nothing, why?

The problem seems to be not so much that tenants don’t have rights, but that they don’t know them. I found the same when advocating for beneficiaries when working for Auckland Action Against Poverty. Local council advisory services such as CAB could help with this. Increasing supply of housing will also redress the balance.

Fair rent

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?

Rent control is certainly something I would agree with. However, some of us are not net landlords, but are renting in one place while renting out a property in another. I had tenants in my Tauranga house while I was renting in Auckland. If my rent rose in Auckland, I had to raise my rent in Tauranga to cover costs. So if rent is controlled, and the landlord is also renting somewhere else but does not meet the criteria for rent control, there should be a way to redress this.

What do you think are the main reasons rents in Auckland are increasing? How would you ensure rents in Auckland are affordable?

I’m not an economist so can only speculate. But I do know that economics 101 is about supply and demand. Increase the supply, and the cost should go down. Another problem are the numbers of empty houses in Auckland that are neither lived in or rented. This is something that the council could do something about. They could work with owners to find tenants. Maybe take the lease themselves and sub-let. Another option would be to charge higher rates for empty properties to encourage owners to fill them.

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?

Apart from all the measures above, I would promote free and comprehensive public transport. This will not only increase the amount of money in renters’ pockets, it will also open up a wider choice in where they can live.

Anything else you want to share?

Landlords also need a steady income. Build to rent schemes will help renters and also help landlords.

Michael Morris


Likely to make things better for renters

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