New Zealand: Struggling to find a ‘suitable home’ Housing news

Wellington, New Zealand – Stricter rules for property investors and speculators have come into effect in New Zealand this month as part of government efforts to tackle the country’s growing housing crisis.

Under the new law, property investors will no longer be able to deduct mortgage interest from their taxable income

It is trying to focus on restoring the primary role of housing rather than a financial asset and tackling the country’s housing shortage, rising property prices and homelessness.

According to the Real Estate Institute New Zealand, home prices have risen 145 percent in the last 10 years. According to statistics New Zealand, the rental rate has also increased by 37% in the last 10 years.

As of 2018-2018, 2,000,000 people in the country were living in homeless, or temporary or shared housing, and figures from the Ministry of Social Development say there are more than 2,000,000 people in the public housing register.

The dire situation has already attracted the interest of the Human Rights Commission, which announced plans to conduct a national investigation into housing in August.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt says successive governments over the past 50 years have failed the people of New Zealand.

In the 1990s, there was a royal inquiry into housing, which resulted in the formation of a National Housing Council, which was disbanded just 10 years later.

“Looking back, it’s an important agency that oversaw the growing problem,” he said. “We have taken our eyes off the ball and left everything to the power of the market.

“The Human Rights Commission is not in favor of any public or private system – it is up to the government of the day to decide, but whatever method is chosen must be provided and there is no doubt that it has failed in recent years.”

He said dition has historically been active in drafting international human rights law – including the right to a decent home – but it has not done so well in bringing those rights back to the country.

“These agreements have been approved, so they are legally binding but there is a kind of memory attack when politicians and officials return to the country from the Pacific Ocean,” he said.

“The right to enjoy a safe, secure, decent home is critically important to wellness. Without a suitable home, it is very difficult for people to be active members of society.”

Al Jazeera spoke about the experience of finding their home with some New Zealanders.


Jim, who suffered a life-changing injury that left him unable to work, found himself on the street [Sasha Borissenko/Al Jazeera]

Jim * was living on the streets of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, when Al Jazeera spoke to him. He had been homeless for more than two weeks but was hoping to move his family to another part of the country.

He said Jim has benefited from the illness since he was hit in the back of the head with an ax five years ago. He does not remember the circumstances leading to the accident without waking up at the hospital where he was told that he was lucky to survive.

He has been in and out of public housing since the accident, but getting permanent financial help has proved difficult because a head injury means he will never be able to work.

Jim finds himself without a roof over his head after half his time at home is over.

This is her first time on the street, but she said people continue to be helpful – providing food, daily showers, and welcoming the homeless community.

“You really want to be alone and not be harassed. I’m taking it day in and day out. I got good shoes, a blanket and I was as comfortable as possible. ”

Benjamin Duvesten

Benjamin Duvestein, a 25-year-old engineer, moved to Raglan, on the North Island of New Zealand, for two years, but in April 2020, when his relationship with his brother deteriorated, he moved to a tent.

With countless jobs and no room in Raglan, she says it makes more sense to spend the night in a campground for 15 New Zealand dollars (40 10.40) than to go to Auckland, the country’s largest city. 200 and 250 New Zealand dollars (13 138.65 and 3 173.33) per week which he describes as a “shoe box”.

Duyvesteyn ended up living under the canvas for 10 months.

“It simply came to our notice then. I must have had a good time in my life, “he told Al Jazeera. “There was no washing equipment or hot water in the campground. It was frozen during the winter. I’ll use a laundromat in town to wash my clothes. I used the battery pack to charge my phone. If it rained I couldn’t dry out before I went to bed.

“There were cat-sized rats. Once I found a rat inside my tent so I would basically stay outside the supermarket and buy every meal every day. But it was something I had to do. I was working full time so it meant I saved some money.

Duyvesteyn moved out with friends in early 2021.

Kelly-Jane Ferry

Kelly-Jane Ferry said finding a new home was a ‘ruthless’ experience [Ruth Hollinsworth/Ruth Holly Photography]

Kelly-Jane Ferry and her two daughters had been living in the Mount Victoria area of ​​the capital, Wellington, for three years, when their property manager gave them 42 days’ notice that the lease would not be renewed.

“I am just sad to leave our home,” Ferry told Al Jazeera. “After renting for so many years, I was left with this uninterrupted fear in my mind that we would have to move again soon, which means I didn’t really invest in beautifying any place.

She said finding a suitable, affordable, and a new place near the girls school is extremely worrying.

“The lack of coordination between price and quality has blown me away,” Ferry told Al Jazeera. “It simply came to our notice then. You can see a house where the paint is peeling, the walls are dirty, and it hasn’t been done for 50 years, and with little sunlight. And then you see a place that has a beautiful sea view apartment and it is the same price. Where is the line, and how does it work?

Some properties were found on the ferry and what was offered was usually designed for young professionals who were able to pay NZ 300 300 ($ XXX) per week for a room in a house or small apartment.

Ferry says homeowners will often push the limits they can get.

“I’m really sorry for those who don’t know the law, or don’t have the confidence to speak up. But if you talk, you will always have the opportunity to risk your health and the safety of your home because you gave them a reason to evict you when you challenged them, ”he said.

The Covid-1 of delayed the ferry, but he and his children now find a warm, dry house in a suburb of Wellington.

“So life is good, we have to move on until next time!”

Rachel Lydia Barker

Freelance video editor Rachel Lydia Barker, 26, spent her adult life renting a flat or house, but as a result of Covid-1 of, she now lives in Wellington with her parents.

Barker is from a middle-class, reasonably wealthy background.

He inherited some money from his grandparents and his parents have been saving it since he was born, but despite having a “huge amount of help”, the cost of living means he can’t afford to buy a house in the city.

Barker says it would be cheaper to serve the mortgage than to rent it, but he would not be able to save enough money for the deposit. “Of course I prefer to pay a mortgage rather than pay the same amount of rent with the possibility of being displaced at any time.”

He plans to go to Australia to join his sister, who recently bought an apartment in Melbourne. Barker’s sister realized that she would earn enough abroad and two and a half years later, to help her family, she secured a deposit.

“My parents are very kind. They decided to move to New Zealand for an English and improved lifestyle. I was eight years old then and New Zealand was a haven. It still exists in many ways but the cost of living is increasingly the same if not higher than cities like New York or London – and those cities have to offer without some benefits.

Nigel Mander

Nigel Mander has lived a fleeting life but has no regrets. He said attitudes about housing need to change [Sasha Borissenko/Al Jazeera]

Nigel Mander, a former professional clown in his sixties, has been renting since his mother died 12 years ago.

After traveling the world, he moved to an abandoned store and lived there for five years. “I didn’t promote it too much because I didn’t want to get offside with it [municipality]. There was wiring and water damage, the roof leaked, but it was cheap and it worked until the owner let me out.

Ever since Mander has lived a fleeting life at home at the mercy of various landlords and friends, he says he has no regrets.

“My life situation was not very stable and it left me with an underlying feeling of insecurity but I did not let it discourage me. I throw caution in the air and I push indiscriminately. I’ve never been a much saver and I’ve traveled extensively.

“We need to change people’s attitudes about housing. It should not be about owning your own castle or having the property as an investment, but if you are getting an extra room or an extra house, there may be people – and not one person who can use the company – who will be grateful for the accommodation. I think there is a lack of community.

“Of course there are enough houses to get around, but when greed comes into play, where people decide to own 20 houses or keep them empty because it’s less of a hassle than renting them out, that’s my problem.”

Murdoch Stephens

Murdoch Stephens has been in the rental home for more than 20 years and says everyone in New Zealand’s housing market has changed little. [Sasha Borissenko/Al Jazeera]

Author Murdoch Stephens, 40, has been living in a rented house since the age of 18.

In the spring of 2019, he was sharing a flat n Mount Victoria – one of the wealthiest suburbs of Wellington – with five others when the area was headlined after being attacked by “monster rats”.

At the time he was challenged by the flat – rents rose 18 percent and there were infrastructural problems, but he could not contact the landlord. It became a joke that the landlord was probably a giant rat living in the garden, which became the basis of his book Rat King Landlord.

“What we are not talking about is the subtle consequences of the housing crisis; People are in relationships that should not be feared to change their living conditions, or divided communities because people are moving from suburbs to suburbs, for example.

“As a writer, you don’t make a lot of money at the best of times, but I especially think of young people who don’t have the opportunity to pursue a growing creative career because the cost of living means it’s not an option.”

Stephens is not interested in disrespecting landlords or politicians or personalizing the issue. The housing problem is structural and would be a paradigm shift in thinking to fix it, he says.

“Everyone is short-lived in this environment. We do not have the language to change it or any language that reacts collectively. ”

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