A secure and stable home is essential for wellbeing. Renters should not fear eviction for reporting problems, or for reasons outside our control. Instead we should be able to make our rented property a home. It’s time to change the perception of renters as visitors in their communities who can never put down roots. Introducing security of tenure will reduce transience, strengthen community engagement, improve educational outcomes and give renters the protection we need to raise the quality of our homes and the housing stock in general.
Our plan for stable homes
- Introduce a legislative definition of a rental property as a home that recognises the role the home plays in wellbeing and therefore the impact of unwarranted disruption. Require that landlords and the Tenancy Tribunal take all reasonable steps to minimise disruption to a renter’s security and stability in their home. Apply principles of natural justice when dealing with disputes.
- Abolish no cause evictions by requiring landlords to provide to the tenant in writing a specific, legally-testable reason for ending a tenancy. This would establish indefinite tenancies as the norm.
- Limit the reasons that a landlord may end a tenancy to factors within the renter’s power to address. Legitimate reasons will be limited to non-payment of rent; serious illegal or anti-social behaviour; or significant damage to the property. No other reasons will be legitimate, including sale of the property (though the tenancy could transfer with the sale), or the landlord’s family taking occupancy.
- Limit the use of fixed term tenancies to circumstances where a property has a reasonable and legitimate fixed period of availability. This will include the property being vacant while its usual owner-occupiers are abroad for a fixed period.
- Require landlords to take all reasonable steps to protect the continuity of a tenancy, and minimise disruption to the tenant’s security, stability, and quiet enjoyment in the case of maintenance or upgrade to a property.
- Retain the existing renters’ notice period of 21 days in all circumstances, except where a landlord has given notice, in which case the tenant may give 7 days notice.
- Allow renters to keep pets and make minor changes to the property consistent with the goal of making the house their home. Such changes would include but not be limited to repainting, hanging pictures and securing furniture in case of earthquakes.
- Allow renters to make reasonable adjustments to the terms of the tenancy when personal circumstances change, for example the birth of a child, the need to care for a relative or the occasional turn-over of renters in a flat-share.
- Reduce the allowed frequency of inspections to once every six months after tenants have occupied a property for more than one year.