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Green Party Calls for Rent Controls in Open Letter to Ardern

By Kate Major

The Green Party’s support of kiwi renters was bolstered when they published an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern calling for an immediate rent freeze until stronger rent controls are put in place.

What did the Green Party’s rent control letter say?

In their open letter to the PM, Green Party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw said landlords have “hiked up rental prices like never before” over the past year, which makes it harder for renters to afford essentials like healthy food and heating in winter.

Citing that currently “nearly half of all people in Aotearoa rent their home from a landlord,” the Greens asked Ardern to back their plan to ensure renters can put an “affordable roof over their heads, make ends meet, and stay in their communities.”

Davidson and Shaw urged the prime minister to “immediately freeze rents as an interim measure while we work together on a permanent plan to strengthen rent controls – including limits on annual rent increases and linking rents to what previous tenants paid.”

Is the Green Party’s open letter receiving support from within parliament?

In February 2022, Associate Minister of Housing Poto Williams said Cabinet was discussing proposals to support struggling renters, including rent control and indexation, saying there was “nothing that’s off the table.”

In that interview, Williams conceded it is “tough” for renters and noted that “affordability is a tough nut to crack.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern later gave a different message, saying the government was not planning to use rent controls, but they were rather pulling housing affordability levers such as reforming interest deductibility rules and extending the brightline test. Ardern said this increased the number of first home buyers in the market.

Seemingly aware of the pressure rent controls and rent freezes can put on landlords, Ardern was clear to also recognise the plight of renters. She said, “we have to make sure that rental properties are available. We are doing all we can, though, to make sure that we have a rental sector that is affordable and where we have more long-term stable tenancy for our renters.”

Is the open letter receiving support from the public?

The Green Party’s open letter to Prime Minister Ardern had received 10,903 signatures by late April, with the party seeking 12,000 signatures of support.

Where to from here?

If you’d like to learn more about the possible implications of rent controls for both landlords and tenants, read this interesting article for a more macro level perspective.

Get in touch with our savvy team if you’re a landlord looking for better Christchurch property management services.

Renters can browse our Christchurch rental properties.

Image: ‘Christchurch City (New Zealand) from the Port Hills.’ by Larry Koester via CC BY 2.0.

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