An immediate freeze on rent increases could offer tenants a much-needed break, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) has said.
A housing survey, launched by the commission last year, found that rents were rising faster than incomes and inflation.
A house is considered unaffordable for a person to rent if they have to spend more than 30% of their income to keep a roof over their head.
Every dollar spent on rent over this limit means less for other basic needs, such as healthy food and heating in the winter.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the government put in place a temporary six-month freeze on rent increases to ease the pressure on tenants.
The commission suggests that the government restore the freeze on rent increases and immediately increase the housing supplement to help low-income tenants.
HRC Housing Survey Manager Vee Blackwood said more than half of tenants spent more than 30 per cent of their income on rent.
“The overall cost should not exceed 30% of your after-tax income spent on your housing costs, but we know that almost half of renters spend this or more and this is mainly felt by those with the lowest incomes. “, Blackwood said.
ASB’s most recent research on financial wellbeing found that 18-24 year olds were 34% more likely to have payment problems than the national average.
Young people spent more of their money on essential daily living expenses such as rent, food and transportation compared to other age groups, the survey found.
Pensioner Sue Ajarma said she pays more than half of her income for rent alone.
“I think a freeze on rent increases is a good thing,” said Adjarma.
“More than half of my income is only for rent and I am a beneficiary.”
The proportion of people renting in Aotearoa is growing, with a third of New Zealanders and half of the adult population now renting homes.
The Green Party supports the commission’s call for an immediate rent freeze.
Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said that for one in three people who rent, the cost of staying in their home is rising much faster than income.
“The Commission on Human Rights is absolutely right. An immediate rent freeze followed by permanent and meaningful changes in the way we rent is essential to recognizing the human right to warm and affordable housing,” Davidson said. .
“The shocking fact that this is the reality of nearly one in two tenants. These people are struggling to pay bills as rents continue to rise. That should be reason enough for any government to act.”
Earlier commenting on an advocacy group’s call to limit rent increases, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government was planning rent increases once the temporary freeze ends in 2020, which is why the Tenancy Act for residential use has been urgently updated to limit rent increases to once every 12 months. .
She said the government made the changes, which included a ban on rental auctions and 90-day terminations without cause, with tenants in mind.
“If they see an increase, it will be the only increase over their rental that can happen over a 12 month period, and I think that’s really significant.”
Later this month, the commission will launch the next steps in its housing inquiry.