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Slum rentals in the brighter future

Written By: - Date published: 7:01 am, June 8th, 2017 - 24 comments
Categories: class war, housing, national - Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve only just caught up with this depressing piece by Amanda Saxton in the SST:

18-month-old Julia, the innocent face of modern NZ’s brutal, archaic boarding houses

Eighteen-month-old Julia Alatina is smiley, snotty-nosed, and dotted with flea bites.

She’s trusting; exchanging her toy broom, made of sticks, for a stranger’s hand to toddle off down the bloodstained hallway of a south Auckland lodge for the down and out.

There are six prams in that hallway, more in others. Julia’s not the only child sharing a bed with her parents in what is essentially a halfway house.

Those on the frontline reckon kids living in boarding houses have it as bad as kids living in cars – and should be fast-tracked by the government into safer accommodation.

Plunket’s national clinical advisor Karen Magrath says overcrowding is now commonplace; it stems from a lack of quality, affordable housing.

“Many families just can’t rent a whole house on their own,” she says. “That or they can’t afford to heat their whole house, so live together in one room to keep warm.”

Plunket nurses note families of up to six sharing a single room, around the country, daily. They also note the cases of eczema, asthma, flu, skin infections, and sudden infant death syndrome that partner jam-packed living conditions.

Plunket doesn’t keep tabs on whether the families they visit are in official boarding houses or private residences rented out room by room; overcrowding’s health impact and cause tend to be the same whatever the establishment. …

In a companion piece:

Greed, desperation, and squalor – life in illegal boarding houses

Condemned by the council as a health hazard, a boarding house in South Auckland was ordered to be fixed up or shut down by March 26.

Over two months later not a skerrick of work has been done on the place and at least six people still live there.

The one toilet at 43 Church St, Otahuhu, was smashed to bits in early April; tenants said they now walk down the road to a petrol station or KFC every time they needed to relieve themselves. The house also lacks doors, window panes, and a working stove.

Each tenant pays the property manager up to $250 a week for their room.

The council addressed an Insanitary Building Notice to Gurmej Kaur Singh, of Papatoetoe. Singh could be fined up to $200,000 for flouting duties as a landlord, the letter warned, if the problems weren’t remedied.

During April and May the council also ordered three boarding houses in West Auckland to close. These – all owned by Liangguo ‘Tony’ Xu – were overcrowded and not up to building code standards.

Xu had spliced the houses’ garages, dining rooms, and lounges into tiny bedrooms – for which he charged on average $250 per week. Neighbours complained of filth and chaos that the boarding houses brought to their area: rubbish dumping, burglaries, aggressive dogs, public urination, vandalism, and threatening behaviour.


Ambiguous legislation letting dodgy boarding houses operate undetected has spurred neighbours of Xu’s boarding houses to submit a petition to Parliament. They are calling for a legislative review and better regulation of boarding houses.

Kelston Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni submitted the petition and accuses landlords like Xu and Singh of exploiting the housing crisis.

Vulnerable people are paying “large sums of money for what is substandard accommodation”, she says.

“There has to be some test of ethics for somebody who provides this sort of accommodation.”

Read on for plenty more in both cases, the photos (Chris Skelton) are as much a kick in the guts as the words.

How can anyone vote for three more years of this?

24 comments on “Slum rentals in the brighter future ”

  1. BM 1

    This seems to be more a council issue.

    • tc 1.1

      Yes dear, they flogged all those state houses, reshape GI/Pt England, refuse rental standards and to regulate against speculators in residential housing also did they dear.

      • BM 1.1.1

        Condemned by the council as a health hazard, a boarding house in South Auckland was ordered to be fixed up or shut down by March 26.

        Over two months later not a skerrick of work has been done on the place and at least six people still live there.

        Why hasn’t the council shut it down?

        • Draco T Bastard

          That’s a good question. Perhaps they don’t have the resources to. Perhaps the laws, which are set up to make a few people rich, don’t really support them in taking the property off the owner – while leaving him with all the debt.

          There are many questions but the big one is: Why do we base our society around the greed of the few?

    • Incognito 1.2

      Wrong! First and foremost it is a social issue, which means you have a part to play in it whether you like it or not and whether you deny it or not.

      Have a nice day.

      • BM 1.2.1

        We all know there’s a shortage of places in Auckland, maybe you can help out by providing a room?

        Or the council could grow a pair, use the powers they’ve got and come down on these slum lords like a tonne of bricks.

        • Incognito

          Your response was as predictable as it was disappointing. Thank you for pretending you care.

          • garibaldi

            This is the ‘brighter future’ you wholeheartedly support BM. Suck it up.

            • BM

              Suck it up?Suck what up?
              Some people living in shitty conditions because some landlords aren’t meeting their obligations? yeah that’s a first for NZ that one 🙄

              Anyway, If you think anything is going to change under a Labour/NZ First government then you’re completely deluded.

              • mauī

                No doubt you will blame the landlords till the cows come home while we see increasing numbers of homeless people on the streets, hear about families living in motel rooms and being left with the bill, and families living in vans and garages. The landlords are taking advantage of people’s plight in a dysfunctional system. They’re parasites on a rotten carcass. The parasites aren’t the problem.

        • Ad

          Auckland Council has plenty of powers to build and rent out its own social housing.

          Instead it is concentrating its $$ on infrastructure for primarily greenfields developments for usually expensive and large standalone owner-occupier housing on the periphery.

          • greg

            nats created this mess the solution is send them an ultimatum with the right incentive structure fix it or we the people will sept 23

        • saveNZ

          @ BM – but where will these people go? That is what seems to be the gap in my mind between the debate? If they close all these hotels down, then are they homeless or living in overpriced hotels and the debt being passed to the beneficiary – what are the options?

          Yep, the landlord should be expected to keep the place in order, BUT if the tenants are smashing the toilets etc – private landlords would not rent to people with antisocial issues, there are drug issues, the state houses are being privatised and so where are these people to go – prison at $100k per year and NZ having an incarceration rate as high per capita as the USA?

          If you don’t bother looking after citizens when they are young, you get a LOT of problems when they get older.

          And it is outrageous that kids are being bought up in those conditions. 20 years ago they would be in a 3 bedroom state house, with a garden and next to a nice local school. We are going BACKWARDS.

          National is destroying our society. Auckland is a great example, a decade spent meddling in the Super City, the unitary plan and creating a basket case of congestion, housing crisis, health and school crisis and pollution. John Banks sold all the social housing the council owned. The Natz are finishing the job taking the state houses. National are so keen on their privatisation agenda and control issues, creating a low wage, speculative economy they failed to understand that cities are about living in, the poor and the rich and all in between should have a decent standard of living.

          There needs to be a comprehensive policy about the 93,000 people in neither work or on a benefit, the quality of our welfare and vs the cost of living, immigration and working visas, housing and who is going to pay for National’s immigration strategy – the new houses, the new roads, the public transport, the water upgrades, the new hospitals, schools, police, prisons…. has the agenda worked???

    • Draco T Bastard 1.3

      No, it’s an issue of the sociopathic system we use.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    What we’re seeing here is simply capitalism. That’s it, you really won’t get anything better when you base a society around individuals greed.

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    How can anyone vote for three more years of this?

    Well, you just argued that the UK needs five more years of it…

  4. Ad 4

    Carmel Sepuloni was well recognised there.

    It’s the best issue the opposition has got to change this government, so I hope they make the most of it.

  5. saveNZ 5

    Where National seems to want to head in a fast artificial doubling of population and low wage strategy….


  6. The New Student 6

    John Key let me ask you this: how is it that you were able to grow up in a Government-provided home; yet under the Government you once led, children like Julia Alatina are unable to do so?

    • georgecom 6.1

      hear hear. As Little said “build more bloody houses”

      • Peter 6.1.1

        But who will actually build them?
        I cant see Adern with a hammer in her hand.
        The Ministry of Works is long dead.

        So whom?

    • Treetop 6.2

      I want to know how long Key lived in a state home?
      (this has been previously asked by me).

  7. Treetop 7

    There needs to be a coalition on housing for the next 10 years. Every MP needs to go and spend a week in substandard accommodation and focus on the children who live in such deplorable conditions because of the shortage of housing and the cost of housing.

    Child neglect by the government due to slum housing conditions is preventable. For a start they need to find the finance today to pay for the shortfall of Auckland owned council land so low cost housing can go ahead.

    May I suggest that emergency housing money be increased and this used to pay the Auckland council the shortfall so the Manukau build can go ahead. Currently emergency housing money is not building a single home.

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