Candidate Nīkau Wi Neera answers Renters United’s questions

September 14, 2022 1:47 pm


Nīkau Wi Neera

Te Whanganui-a-Tara Māori Ward

Likely to make things better for renters

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Renters United asked every candidate in the Te Whanganui-a-Tara Māori Ward 17 questions about the issues that most concern renters in their ward. Here are Nīkau Wi Neera’s responses in full.

Rapid fire questions

Are you a renter? Yes
Do you own any properties? No
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? Yes
Will you commit to using your platform to abolish the ratepayers roll? Yes

Stable homes

What actions would you take to improve stability and security for private renters?
My first priority is stabilise the lower end of the market, rapidly increasing our supply of affordable housing by building thousands of new social housing units to be operated in collaboration with mana whenua. For private rentals, I will use our District Plan and zoning laws to more easily allow the construction of thousands of quality, high-density homes.
I will also support strong rent controls from government, stabilisation, and counter-cyclical investment in construction to push down rental prices and tip the scales in favour of tenants. Finally, I will support the conversion of office space to residential housing, and advocate strongly for tenants’ rights.

How will you ensure all council tenants have security of tenure?
I will continue the crucial fight for Income-Related Rent Subsidies, which will prevent our tenants being artificially priced out of the market.
I will strongly oppose any measure that moves our social housing provision outside of public ownership, and work tirelessly to expand our stock to over-compete demand.
Finally, the ultimate goal for my term will be to establish the first steps towards Universal Public Housing. We must recognise that home ownership is not the ultimate goal for all our citizens, and thus build such a surplus of housing that anybody, regardless of income or need, can use publicly-owned housing to be warm, safe, and secure in the long term.

What steps will you take to end homelessness in Wellington?
I will rapidly increase our supply of social and affordable housing, and grow a city with safe urban spaces and a significant body of transitional and emergency housing.
I will work with community alternatives to policing and justice advocates, to prevent post-conviction homelessness.
I will fund the building of a women’s emergency night shelter, and plan other centres for all suddenly displaced persons.

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 strongly support fines for landlords who fail to meet the standards for healthy, safe homes free of mould, faulty construction, damp, and any other structural issues that compromise tenant wellbeing.
I also support the establishment of a landlord register, to hold repeat offenders to account and give tenants a method to avoid negligent landlords and property managers.
Finally, I will use every Council tool at my disposal to assist with mediation and tenant advocacy in the case of disputes.

What do you think Council should do to address power imbalance between landlords and tenants? If nothing, why?
It’s important to recognise that a root cause of the power imbalance is the dire need of tenants, created by a severe shortage of available housing stock. This allows unreasonable pricing, poor treatment, and general negligence to fester.
Therefore, the first step in solving this problem will be to sharply increase our supply of housing, using the aforementioned tools to grow our supply of social and affordable homes.
I will also directly fund tenant advocacy services to assist in mediation.
Finally, I will advocate for an empowered, binding Tenancy Tribunal, and advocate for central government to expand the rights of renters.

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?
I will leverage our Green parliamentary team to advocate for central government to introduce strong rent controls, tightly limit annual increases, and publicly track rental prices for each property.
As previously stated, I will strongly advocate for Income-Related Rent Subsidies (IRRS), and for IRRSs to be paid retroactively to those tenants who were forced to seek benefit assistance as a result of being denied IRRSs in the previous council term.
I will tirelessly petition government to provide more funding and resourcing to the council for the construction of affordable homes.

What do you think are the main reasons rents in Wellington are increasing? How would you ensure rents in Wellington are affordable?
The disgraceful lack of a Capital Gains Tax (CGT), poor zoning and density regulations resulting in an undersupply of housing, and the fact that a large proportion of renters are students.
This can be addressed by increasing our stock of social and affordable housing, advocating for government to implement the aforementioned recommendations of IRRS, rent controls, and CGT, and using our zoning laws to decommodify housing and discourage land banking.

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 will use our planning and zoning tools to ensure new builds are warm, secure, energy efficient, and connected to green spaces and public transport to improve tenant wellbeing at every level.
I will fund tenant advocacy services to help tenants access maintenance and upgrades for existing properties.
I will strongly support the Renters United Healthy Homes Commitment at every stage of my campaign and council term.

Anything else you want to share?

I plan to reform our rating system, to reduce long-term land banking by investors and encourage smart, economic land use. I also believe that connecting our new supply of affordable housing to public transport is essential, and we can take advantage of the new Let’s Get Wellington Moving plan to build affordable housing along the route of the new Light Rail system.

Nīkau Wi Neera

Te Whanganui-a-Tara Māori Ward

Likely to make things better for renters

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