Renters and Covid-19

March 25, 2020 11:42 am

On the 25 March Renters United made the following media statement on what is required of Government to support renters during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Renters need certainty and rent relief during the Covid-19 lockdown

Yesterday the Prime Minister assured homeowners that “no-one would lose their home” due to Covid-19. The one third of New Zealanders who rent need this same certainty, both during the lockdown and beyond.

Renters, like all New Zealanders, will unite to fight Covid-19 but to do so we need a secure and stable home from which we can play our part. Renters United is calling for the Government to take urgent action to make this a reality.

To address the housing security of renters, Renters United is urging the Government to:

  1. Introduce a total eviction ban to keep renters in their home during the outbreak.
  2. Convert all fixed term tenancies that expire during the outbreak into periodic tenancies.
  3. Create a dedicated service to coordinate the identification and needs based allocation of available housing to address homelessness, overcrowding and quality issues as they arise during the outbreak. This service should have the power to require any suitable empty housing (“ghost houses”, motels etc.) to be utilised if necessary to meet the needs of the community.

To address the financial security of renters, Renters United is urging the Government to:

  1. Ban rent increases.
  2. Grant an automatic right for renters to alter, terminate or reassign a fixed term tenancy where their circumstances have changed due to Covid-19. Examples include: people self-isolating away from their tenancy and students whose courses have been cancelled who have returned home.
  3. Ensure any mortgage relief that is available to landlords is passed on in full to renters.
  4. Put in place financial support and rent restrictions to ensure no renters will go into debt to their landlord, third party lenders, banks or the Government to pay their rent.

Robert Whitaker, Organiser for Renters United said:

“Together, these measures will put renters on an equal footing with homeowners and give us certainty through this crisis.

“Just as importantly the measures will help ensure that after the crisis renters aren’t trapped in debt that makes it impossible for them to recover financially and fully contribute to the country’s recovery.

“The Government must act quickly and decisively so renters can contribute fully to the fight against Covid-19.”

The Government has indicated that changes can be expected later this week to address the needs of renters. Renters wait and hope that the certainty and assurances that homeowners have received will be matched for those who rent.

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We are keen to hear your stories about renting under Covid-19 and, if possible, share them with media (we will contact you before passing them on).

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