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July 23, 2012 | by  | in News |
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Students Forced To Live Like Students

Wellington slumlords in in exploitative mood

The Green Party has accused the National Government of failing to address a housing shortage in New Zealand, which some have claimed is causing inflated rents and the provision of sub-standard accommodation to some of society’s most vulnerable groups, including students.

“New Zealanders are leaving these shores in record numbers, in part because they cannot find housing here that is affordable on New Zealand wages,” Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman said.

An accommodation supplement was introduced in 1993 to help those on low incomes with housing related costs. But Labour housing spokesperson Annette King says that housing remains “absolutely appalling… and landlords take whatever the accommodation supplement is and add it to their rent.”

Victoria University students Salient spoke to, agree that rental housing in Wellington is expensive and often of low quality.

“The landlords in Wellington don’t even try if they’re renting to students. Most of the houses here are poorly insulated, if at all,” second year Bachelor of Arts student Francis said.

International postgraduate student Jana said New Zealand’s housing paled in comparison to that of Germany. “In Germany I spend about €200 a month [NZ$306] on housing as a student, including water and power and things. The housing quality there is really good,” she said.

“In Germany there’s central heating in all the houses but if you’re still cold inside you put on a sweater and then you’re warm. In New Zealand you always have to wear a sweater inside and you’re still cold.”

The recent Productivity Commission report on housing affordability found that real house prices doubled between 2001 and 2007. It blamed the increase on a lack of land for housing development.

Its recommendations for easing the problem included more high and medium-density housing, and an immediate release of land for housing developments in Auckland and Christchurch.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett responded to criticism from other parties by putting the blame on landlords.

“Ask yourself whether you are giving a quality of housing that you, yourself would be happy to live in and I just think it means an element of fairness really, and that’s what we ask of any New Zealander,” Bennett said.

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