Chlöe Swarbrick says her party’s election promise to implement rent controls will “work for people in rent-controlled accommodation”.
The Green Party on Sunday revealed a new policy called “Pledge to Renters”, with the aim of further tightening rent controls. The controls would limit how much landlords can increase rent each year, homes would need to have a rental ‘warrant of fitness’ and there would be a national register of landlords and property managers to show who owns rental properties and how much rent is charged.
AM host Ryan Bridge quizzed Swarbrick on Monday about whether the policy was feasible.
“Why are you going after just rents? I mean, if you look at rents and the rate that they’ve gone up in recent years compared to fresh fruit and vegetables, why are you not putting controls on broccoli?” Bridge asked Swarbrick.
But Swarbrick said the rental market was “wildly out of control”.
She said her party’s policy would address this by putting contractual arrangements in place between tenants and landlords.
“We have international examples… where we have seen that rent controls have been put in place and they have worked successfully,” Swarbrick told Bridge.
“I find it mind-blowing that, whenever we mention the rights of renters, all of a sudden we’re pitched as attacking landlords and property managers.
“One and a half million New Zealanders in this country rent – it is not the case that is a transient state of people anymore.”
Swarbrick went on to say the average tenant resided in a rental property for about 16 months at a time, which she said was “not a sustainable way of going about building a life, connecting into your community or making those investments necessary”.
ACT Party leader David Seymour took aim at Swarbrick over the renters’ policy, saying “if there was a famine I think the Greens’ response would be, ‘Let’s make it harder to farm.’
“The simple facts are, once again – just as with their wealth tax – the Greens are trying to divide New Zealand. They’re going after a group of people saying, ‘They’re the baddies, if we attack them – it’ll be better for you,'” he told AM, appearing alongside Swarbrick.
“We need to get rid of that sort of politics, not only because it’s… divisive but because it’s practically wrong.
“I accept there are bad conditions, there are high rents but what people who rent need is a bigger supply with more landlords, offering more homes, more choice, more competition – that’s how you get higher quality in any other market.”
Seymour’s party has proposed reforming the Resource Management Act on a property rights basis, allowing builders to opt out of council inspections if they have private insurance and scrapping the bright line test.