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Rent freezes in disaster zones

Written By: - Date published: 7:25 am, December 10th, 2013 - 80 comments
Categories: disaster, families, housing - Tags:

You need little more evidence of how Gerry Brownlee’s lazy-faire approach to the Christchurch rebuild has failed than the story of the (working) single mother forced to live in a tent with her 3 kids because there’s no affordable rentals. One of the automatic moves in a large scale disaster should be to freeze rents in the disaster zone. The Human Rights Commission agrees.

80 comments on “Rent freezes in disaster zones ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Good pick Zetetic. I really wonder why none of the political parties put this forward with 12 months of the original earthquakes, when it was clear rents (and surviving house prices) were starting to spiral. What it tells me: they weren’t in touch with what was happening on the ground and/or they still use free market theory as an underlying rationale for proposed policies.

    • bad12 1.1

      CV, from memory Grant Robertson during the ‘leadership debates’ was voicing that very proposal of ‘freezing rents’ in Christchurch,

      Also from memory i think David Cunliffe put forward the ‘idea’ recently of the State ‘taking over’ Red Zoned properties that had little damage for use as State Housing,

      Two very practical solutions that along with the Green Party candidate for the Christchurch East by-election proposing villages of pre-built housing be urgently put in place would go a long way to ‘fixing’ the problem in Christchurch,

      Face it tho, Slippery’s National Government have no intention of doing anything about the dire housing situation building in Christchurch, except if it grows, to send in the Cops to bust up any ‘tent town’ that develops from such a cluster-f**k of Government inaction…

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        Yes the idea of a rent freeze was mooted by Grant Robertson during the leadership debates. In Sept 2013.

        The big Christchurch earthquake was early 2011. So well after the majority of harmful rent increases had already occurred – freezing rents at the current higher level is a nice gesture but meaningless.

        • Ake ake ake 1.1.1.1

          From memory and Google, the Labour Party was led by someone who would have had a better fit with ACT’s ideology, going back to the 1980s. And then from 13 Dec 2011, the person he parachuted into the former PM’s electorate seat was engineered to lead the party.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2

        Face it tho, Slippery’s National Government have no intention of doing anything about the dire housing situation building in Christchurch

        Of course they don’t – their constituents are making massive windfall profits out of it.

        • BrucetheMoose 1.1.2.1

          Since most of the local National representatives and their hangers on are heavily invested in property in Christchurch, it is no great surprise that they have absolutely no interest in dealing with the upward spiralling rents and housing prices. The worst offender, is the man himself, Lord Fool of Canterbury, Gerry Brownlee. He has for the last three years completely ignored concerns and warnings from various community factions and experts about the seriousness of the housing shortage, yet he did nothing, when he himself owns multiple properties in Christchurch. Through his deliberate negligence, he has benefited from the situation. He should be held accountable for abusing his position, deliberately causing a crisis for which he can benefit from. A clear case of conflict of interest.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    What? Freeze rents? Affect the income of rentiers and landlords? ARE YOU INSANE?????????

  3. Tracey 3

    Especially as the fear of escalating rents was mooted VERY EARLY ON

    April 2012

    “The rental housing shortage in Christchurch is at breaking point, agencies say. … Christchurch Earthquake 2011 … Children are unsettled, parents are becoming unwell and the elderly are losing themselves with worry and fear. … to live in the city, students and young adults were struggling with high rents”

  4. miravox 4

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/9496170/Hunt-family-fights-on-in-Waltham-Park/

    Four hundred people are on the HNZ waiting list in Canterbury and 148 are listed as priority A.

    Priority A means they are “at risk” with a severe housing need that must be addressed immediately. They may be living in cars, tents or garages.

    The Press understands Hunt sits at number 40 on the list.

    While her two-bedroom tent was being pitched yesterday, people facing similar housing woes wandered into the park to share their stories.

    One man said he was on the brink of homelessness with his wife and 86-year-old mother.

    “He said he might pitch a tent alongside ours. We may have neighbours already,” Hunt said.

    Another elderly woman’s daughter was squatting in an abandoned house with her boyfriend.

    There are no words to describe the contempt I have for this government and the people who knowingly support this shit.

  5. infused 5

    What is capping rents going to do for that mother?

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Would have done something good 18 months ago. But you’re right, fuck all good now.

    • bad12 5.2

      Can you not see the ‘upside-down shit’ that is occurring in Christchurch, while the State pours massive resources into building new Courts, Cop-shops, Fire-stations etc etc etc 5000 State Houses sit idle with boarded up windows awaiting repair,

      How many of them have been fixed in the past 2 years, f**k-all is the number…

      • infused 5.2.1

        Isn’t the problem a labour shortage? That’s what I keep hearing.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.1

          That’s what the RWNJs keep saying but it’s actually BS. Thousands of NZers could have been trained and moved to Canterbury to help out. The only thing that stopped that from happening was that neither the government nor the capitalists were willing to pay for it. The capitalists were, of course, also quite happy with their super profits from massively increased rentals. The government were more concerned with cutting taxes for those same capitalists.

          The result is massive social dysfunction.

    • Lightly 5.3

      she can’t afford a private rental because they’re all too expensive

  6. tricledrown 6

    Brownlee allows landlords to make windfall profits out of disaster ..
    Dickensian days a here again.
    This miserable dickhead is also making it difficult for rebuild .
    Trademen can ‘t find reasonablepriced accommodation.
    Putting off many tradesman helping woth the rebuild.

    • KJT 6.1

      Fletchers, and the Government have effectively “frozen” builders wages in Christchurch at the same time. A little stitch up to ensure Fletcher’s profits.

      Which is why they have had to import thousands of Filipinos to rebuild Christchurch. They don’t want to pay enough to get good NZ builders.

      Remember the fuss when a plumber tried to charge, “market rates”.

      Watch out for another leaky building scandal in a few years, as the houses rebuilt by cheap, poorly skilled labourers, in Christchurch, fall apart.

      The “free market” advocates soon try and remove the “free market” when it suits them.

      Of course too many politicians and their mates own rentals…………….

      • vto 6.1.1

        “Watch out for another leaky building scandal in a few years, as the houses rebuilt by cheap, poorly skilled labourers, in Christchurch, fall apart.”

        this

        for other reasons too

        there is some very shoddy work going on. mostly by our government-owned eqc in fact.

  7. vto 7

    Land prices in the central city were in freefall post-earthquake and rather than let the free market run its course this National government intervened to “shore up” property prices in the central city by taking out huge chunks of land for the green frames around the CBD (bought with your money btw). Complete and total nanny state intervention to stop free market forces from having a detrimental effect on landowners in the CBD.

    In contrast………… out in the wild east red and other zones ………..

    the free market has been left completely and totally untouched with collosal detrimental effects on the people who are unable to afford these post-earthquake effects.

    Brownlee is a cunt. So is John Key. And all the other national party goons. Witness shithead MP Nicky Wagner whining that her electorate has become unwinnable for National.

    They don’t even deserve to be pissed on.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Great visual there mate.

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      But I bet you could sell a lot of tickets for $10 apiece.

    • thatguynz 7.3

      I had guests on the weekend who are involved in the rebuild and who have accordingly worked extensively with Fletchers and CERA et al. They made two comments which were quite disturbing (which in fairness I haven’t tried to validate elsewhere so take them as you will).

      The first was that there was a strong directive to ensure that Cashmere residential properties were to be remedied prior to any of the other areas, and secondly that the residential reconstruction was due to end in Dec 2014 – irrespective of whether all houses/areas were done…

      • Colonial Viper 7.3.1

        This information should be fed to the good Mayor of Christchurch for further follow up. Looking at the work plan for the next 3 months should make it quite clear what is happening.

  8. TightyRighty 8

    she works full time, gets WFF and child support? she doesn’t need a rent freeze, she needs to be told to respect other peoples property

    • geoff 8.1

      Gerry, is that you?

    • Lightly 8.2

      jesus christ. you really are scum. you see a single mother, working nights on the minimum wage, unable to afford a rental in a disaster zone, reduced to living in a tent, and your response is to sneer. you’re just an awful person.

      • vto 8.2.1

        tightyrighty is your typical national party member, yep

      • Intrinsicvalue 8.2.2

        Lightly she can afford a rental. The only reason she’s living in a tent is because she chooses to.

      • Puckish Rogue 8.2.3

        Thats simply not true, on trademe searching for anything up to $400 per week for 4 or less bedrooms there were 344 listings

        • Rob A 8.2.3.1

          I notice you were very careful in your wording of 4 or less bedrooms. SO I’ve decided to have a look

          On trademe there are currently 8 4 bedroom homes under $400 a week, 24 3 bedroom homes and 149 2 bedroom homes (hardly ideal for 3 kids) and even worse 83 single rooms available

          I don’t know where you’ve got the 344 number from. But I’m calling bullshit

    • NZ Femme 8.3

      She needs to be told to respect other people’s property? Where on earth did you get the idea she wasn’t? She was given notice because the house was put on the market. She lived there for four years, in pretty shitty conditions too.

      “… The family have lived in their Waltham rental home for the past four years, paying $220 a week despite its poor condition.

      The earthquakes left the lounge yellow-stickered as part of the roof fell away.

      The front door opens in the wind, the floor has fallen away from the walls in areas, and the windows are rotten…”

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/9492116/Family-fallen-through-the-gaps

      • TightyRighty 8.3.1

        I read that. it hasn’t been verified either. so it could be bollocks. probably is bollocks acutally, if the house has been sold. it’s unlikely a developer is going to go the trouble of purchasing land in waltham., so i doubt it’s going to be bowled over. therefore it can’t be as bad as she is making out. better believe only her side of the story though. wouldn’t want to question the facts while she is crying.

        • McFlock 8.3.1.1

          So many words just to say “lalalalalala not listening”.

          • Draco T Bastard 8.3.1.1.1

            +1

            It’s truly amazing the lengths that these RWNJs will go to to deny reality.

        • Chris 8.3.1.2

          Where does it say the land was bought by a developer???

          It is more likely to have been purchased by a family for next to nics as a do up home to live in.

          There are some truly nasty people creeping around the net these days.

        • NZFemme 8.3.1.3

          Bollocks? Yeah Nah. The tenancy tribunal found otherwise.

          “…A landlord has an obligation to repair and maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair and to complete any necessary repairs within a reasonable time. A breach of this obligation entitles the tenant to compensation. Ms Blair was unable to give evidence of why no attempt whatsoever has been made to improve the condition of the premises for over two and a half years because she said this was entirely in the hands of Ms Stewart. However, whatever the reasons, both Kennard’s and Ms Stewart were aware of the damage and simply doing nothing about it because Ms Hunt was an uncomplaining tenant is unacceptable and a clear breach of the obligation to maintain and repair the premises in a reasonable state of repair…”

          “…In the circumstances I consider that Ms Hunt is entitled to considerable compensation for the substantial inconvenience and stress the breach has caused. I order compensation to be
          payable to Ms Hunt in the sum of $4000. In assessing the amount of compensation I have
          taken into account that Ms Hunt and her children have not had a livingroom for over two and a
          half years and that she has incurred substantial electricity bills in her attempts to heat a house
          that is not weathertight because of the damage…”

          https://forms.justice.govt.nz/search/TT/Documents/56042070.pdf

    • Macro 8.4

      She needs to be paid more – ie a decent wage you idiot
      AND the govt needs to pull its finger out and get some housing in there pronto. Tere are heaps of affordable options but Gerry hasn’t a clue.

  9. Intrinsicvalue 9

    This lady is NOT being forced to live in a tent; this is entirely of her own choice. There are over 50 houses for rent in Christchurch listed on Trade Me between $250 and $300 per week, and this lady is drawing almost $1,000 per week in paid work and welfare benefits.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      More bull shit up the arm from IV.

    • Policy Parrot 9.2

      IV – how many of those houses are for 3 or more bedrooms?

      Just remembering that this woman has her kids removed at one stage – so the family has a history of CYFS involvement. And that CYFS does not look kindly on any type of room sharing, let alone parents sharing with children, or 2+ kids in one room.

      Research is fine, but you do have usually make the next step yourself.

  10. tsmithfield 10

    The Human Rights Commission fails economics 101 in recommending price controls for rents.

    The commonly cited example to demonstrate the effects of price controls on the speed of recovery after a disaster is hurricane Hugo. The evidence was that price controls caused a mis-allocation of resources that slowed the recovery down.

    In the case of rent controls after a disaster, the effect would be to make it less attractive for investors to build housing for rent, and also make landlords much more fussy about prospective tenants.

    Spiraling prices after a disaster indicate a shortage. The way to fix a shortage problem is to address the supply side of the equation. This is where I think the government has dropped the ball.

    For instance, the government has purchased a large amount red-zoned properties. A large number of these are still satisfactory for habitation. Rather than demolishing all these houses, the suitable ones could be rented back to the community until the rebuild addresses the housing shortage on a more permanent basis.

    • Policy Parrot 10.1

      The problem with your assertion, is that:

      1. There was little building activity for 12 to 15 months because of the fear of repeated seismic events. This has caused a huge backlog in supplying the extra rentals.
      2. Meanwhile those who don’t have damaged properties but sufficient capital have little incentive to pursue moves (like helping to increase supply) that would ultimately reduce the windfall amount they receive in the short to medium term.

      • tsmithfield 10.1.1

        Agreed. However, price controls don’t address the problems you describe. There needs to be an increase in emergency supply one way or another until the market has time to address the problem.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 10.1.1.1

          “Needs.”

          No, “needed”. Back in 2010.

          Go on, tell us that the useless government you make excuses for is now, after three years, going to break the mould and do something competent. I could use a laugh.

        • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1.2

          The market won’t address the problem – which is kinda the point. The government could but it’s not as it wedded to the delusional market ideology.

          So, what should happen is rent controls to prevent the gouging that we’re seeing now and the government should build thousands of homes there – ideally to just over full supply. Rent controls can come off after that.

    • Colonial Viper 10.2

      Duh. “Fails Economics 101” is a pass in real life.

      Spiraling prices after a disaster indicate a shortage.

      It indicates rentier capitalism profiteering from a disaster. In war time, such people were sent to prison for good reason.

  11. Bill 11

    Rent freeze…yeah, nah, maybe. Then again, legislate for squatter’s rights and be done with it. Don’t want people to squat? Keep rents affordable.

    • miravox 11.1

      or legislate that a person can only own one house – trusts and businesses can own none.

      Housing is a perfect example of a the failure of the market in providing a social good/right.

      • tsmithfield 11.1.1

        That is one of the most stupid comments I have ever seen in print. So, if people can only own one house and trusts and businesses none, then where does the rental housing come from?

        • miravox 11.1.1.1

          How many people would need to rent? The housing bubble is burst so housing is affordable. For those that do need to rent, or if the developers feel they can make enough excess profit, so won’t build, the state can build and manage rentals.

          As for where does the rental housing come from?
          Can’t be any worse than tent and holiday park cities that are sprouting up now.

          I am quite happy to go with the rent cap and squatters rights if landlords and developers don’t play ball. You choose… just don’t expect me to believe that the rental ‘market’ we have now is the best option for providing housing.

        • Colonial Viper 11.1.1.2

          Existing ownership is not affected. The government provides all new rentals, not rentier capitalists. In other words, exclude a large chunk of demand from the Christchurch market.

          This is a more socially responsible form of capitalism.

          • tsmithfield 11.1.1.2.1

            You don’t actually believe the shit you type do you? 🙂

            • Colonial Viper 11.1.1.2.1.1

              I’m serious. And serious options need to be considered, because the current political economy is not working for far too many people.

            • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1.2.1.2

              The Great Depression and the GFC proved that market capitalism doesn’t work. So; You don’t actually believe the shit you type do you?

        • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1.3

          Government.

          • Colonial Viper 11.1.1.3.1

            Central and local. Preferably more local, even down to the level of community boards.

  12. captain hook 12

    no rent freeze.
    the rugged individualists need proof that there are losers and winners and they are winners because they can stand over people.
    what do you people think the main psychological benefits of capitalism are?

  13. KJT 13

    I don’t see a rent freeze as being useful.

    Increasing the supply of State houses, at reasonable rents, would be.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      ATM, need both.

    • Colonial Viper 13.2

      It would take 12-18 months to substantially increase the number of rent controlled state houses. Assuming a major programme which was competently managed and led (haha). As DTB says – need both ASAP.

  14. aerobubble 14

    Immediate action is required. Look, take the example of a company, a socialist entity if there ever was one, where collective action is owned in common, and profits are divided up equally. A company will freeze prices to keep its brand value. Now you may not buy into brand Christchurch, and landlords that don’t should be shamed, but most people get that capitalism sometimes means delayed gratification. Oh, wait, you’re not a capitalist, go back to N.Korea where the singular of one individual right to rule is enshrined. Bad socialism or bad capitalism, much the same, greed allowed with impunity.

    Recent examples, Fonterra froze milk prices.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      Not so much any ordinary company, but particularly a partnership. And especially common amongst usual the 3-4 start up founders of many a new tech company. It’s as democratic socialist as you can get.

      • aerobubble 14.1.1

        Its essential, as a good neo-liberal, to ignore all cooperative endeavors, which have implied delay gratification, and reward immediately long term self-destructive policies with your consent.

  15. Poission 15

    The Australian political response to ”white collar looting ” certainly shows that attitudes are different.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-24/nsw-bushfires-sydney-rents-arson-anthony-roberts/5042350

  16. Steve Wrathall 16

    Lots of Kiwis enjoy tenting this time of year. Must be a slow news week

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 16.1

      Probably explains why ACT never got far above the margin of error in the polls: no-one likes voting for odious sociopaths.

    • Te Reo Putake 16.2

      The thought of the poor and displaced forced to live outdoors leads to a tiny tent in Steve’s trousers.

      • infused 16.2.1

        Only she wasn’t forced. Many people offered her assistance, which she turned down.

        • Te Reo Putake 16.2.1.1

          Yeah, read that on the sewer or WO didya?

          The people actually trying to help her (as opposed to the people trying to put her down) couldn’t do much, but at least they tried:

          “The best option social workers could find was to pitch a tent in Waltham Park, and roster Maori wardens for protection.”

          The earthquake didn’t cause this situation, neo liberalism did. But as long as Steve and you get your rocks off, that’s cool.

  17. Rob A 17

    My story may be an example of how people in Christchurch have been affected by the increases since the earthquakes. It’s frustrating seeing some of the shit posted by those in Wellington based on there 2 day visit to the ‘disaster zone’

    My wife and I have four kids. We both work, I’m a supervisor in a factory and she’s a nurse.
    We lost our own home in the February earthquake and were lucky enough to find a suitable rental soon after. Although our own house was red stickered we didn’t get an insurance payout for 18 months forcing us to rent during the waiting period. By the time we did get the money buying another house is virtually out of the question. What we paid for a 4 room, 2 bathroom, 2 living area home before the quakes barely get us a 3 bedroom house now.

    The rental we were in was sold and we had to move out at the end of the lease, getting another place was a nightmare. Some houses seemed to have 50 odd applicants. There’s tales of desperate people giving kickbacks to the agents to ensure getting somewhere to live. I was starting to consider trying it but luckily we ended up getting a house before we too ended up homeless but that was a few months of the worst stress I’ve ever been through. On top of that we are paying over $450 a week for a pretty modest house with no working heating. The landlord has been promising a heatpump ever since we moved in but has done nothing. He did shell out for insulation on the condition I put it in myself!

    It’s easy to say there’s x amount on trademe but people have to consider the amount of people wanting them. What I’ve seen and heard it’s only getting worse with all the tradeys moving into town. Also that many rentals are barely livable, certainly not for raising kids.

    Sorry I don’t write very well, I’m just a factory supervisor afterall 🙂

    • Arfamo 17.1

      You write well enough and you communicate superbly.

      • Rob A 17.1.1

        Thanks, but there was much that went unsaid. I guess the biggest thing is how powerless I can feel dealing with EQC, banks, the insurance company, property managers and real estate agents. Having a family in limbo almost while my wife and I were trying to get it all sorted. We still are in limbo really until we can get back into our own home. I didn’t mention the day we gave the dog away because the new landlord wouldn’t allow him and how my kids handled that. They’ve changed schools twice now since the earthquakes, I’d love it if they don’t do so again but can’t promise them anything if the lease on this house gets too expensive.

        I guess it’s all a part of living in Christchurch nowadays and we’ve all got a story down here but it’s frustrating when you get some prat from Wellington going ‘ but there’s a 100 houses on trademe!’

        • Arfamo 17.1.1.1

          No shortage of well off prats in this country dispensing worthless platitudes to those in difficulty. Yet. But their numbers are shrinking as some of them inexplicably find themselves in difficulty when they’re “let go”.

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