Candidate Renee Walker answers Renters United’s questions

September 17, 2022 5:54 pm


Renee Walker

Riccarton Ward

Likely to make things worse for renters

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Renters United asked every candidate in the Riccarton Ward 17 questions about the issues that most concern renters in their ward. Here are Renee Walker’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 answer provided
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?

Stability and security for both private renters and landlords is largely down to good relationships and mutual respect between both parties. A lot has been done over the past few years to improve the quality of rented homes (eg healthy homes and more recent changes to tenancy law that mean landlords can’t decline a tenant’s request to make changes to their rental property – as long as the change is minor). While the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 is the responsibility of MBIE, as a City Council we should be ensuring we have the right supply of public and private housing to support a fair market for all renters, take a strategic approach for housing development in the city and advocate for local democracy to avoid national enforced rules around intensification.

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

The quality of the relationship between the landlord (in this case council) and tenant is an important factor in developing longer tenancies, as is the relationship between tenants in a multi-tenanted environment. Council should advocate for access to all the relevant services that support council tenants to be good ones and ensure that any development is staged and coordinated to avoid tenancies ending unnecessarily.

What steps will you take to end homelessness in Christchurch?

We need to understand more about what is causing the homelessness issue to begin with, and ensure that any solutions are relevant and long-term. In terms of providing additional housing we should investigate options including private/ public partnerships to provide additional ‘low income’ or council housing. Examples may include leasing council-owned land to investors/ Community Housing Providers to develop affordable and fit-for-purpose long-term rental housing.

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?

There is a lot that can be addressed through better education and relationship building – landlords really understanding their obligations and tenants understanding their rights and accessing support where required. The tenancy tribunal was set up for tenants and
landlords but most cases appear to be brought by landlords. Tenants need to know what help and support is available to them via the tenancy tribunal and have the confidence/ means to access it.

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

Advocate for better relationships, provide easy access to services, ensure coordinated planning processes so that demand and supply is more balanced, advocate for local democracy so that council has more ability to influence relationships between landlords and tenants.

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?

Absolutely. Local democracy – the case for localising power and decision-making to councils and communities – matters. It is a more efficient and effective way of meeting community needs, it creates better cities, builds community resilience, improves coordination and integration of public services, and reduces the overall cost of government.

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

Changes to the bright line test and new healthy home laws, as well as rules restricting rent raises to once a year and making it harder for landlords to end tenancies, meant many landlords sold rental properties. Demand is increasing at the same time that less homes are available.

Housing stock has changed as a result of earthquake rebuilds and repairs and upgrades required by central government. We have less ‘older’ and ‘as is’ housing available, and many landlords have raised rents because of the extra costs of the Government’s law changes, during a period when a shortage of rentals means they can.

More needs to be done at a national level to ensure a healthy balance between landlords and tenants, and support an ongoing supply of private rentals. Additional supply will also help keep rents affordable.

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?

This is certainly an issue in the Riccarton Ward. Having previously managed the student accommodation service at the University of Canterbury, I have existing knowledge and networks that I can leverage to make a difference in the area. Providing additional student accommodation to free up housing for private renters, and working with the university to ensure properties are better maintained are two options. Working with landlords to ensure existing properties met the ‘healthier homes’ guidelines is also important as is leveraging some of the council owned land in the area to continue to build affordable housing.

Anything else you want to share?

Any development needs to be coordinated and collaborative. Housing, infrastructure, transport, safety and other community needs to be understood and considered in planning processes.

Renee Walker

Riccarton Ward

Likely to make things worse for renters

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