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September 9, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Vice-President (Welfare)

Salient Column – AGM – Rental WoF launch

Kia Ora,

I hope everyone’s had a relaxing [study] break and a chance to defrost if you went home. It’s your Welfare Vice-President here with some exciting news.

As any student living in a flat knows, we get a pretty shit deal for what we pay in rent. While the beanie my sister knitted for me is pretty sweet (thanks Robyn), it’s unfortunately futile in fending off coughs and colds. The patterns of mould, peeling paint and the whistling of draughts that are fit for a dramatic fringe art installation are frequent features of our flats.

So what can be done?

Put simply, the rental market in Wellington is packed with tenants. Students have been known to outbid each other for even the crappiest Aro Valley abode. We need some basic legislation to ensure that landlords bring their properties up to standard with insulation, heating and ventilation.

This will have massive positive benefits, not only for students but the wider community and economy as a whole. Warmer flats mean that you can keep your fingerless gloves off for those late-night essays. They also mean that you’ll be healthier, causing shorter queues at Mauri Ora and less pressure on the wider healthcare system. It also means less reliance on costly, inefficient heating, lowering power bills leading to more coin for you, and less carbon in the atmosphere.

Minimal rental standards are also great for the wider community, with benefits for all tenants, not just tertiary students. It reduces the effects of child poverty by making it affordable for low-income families to keep their homes warm and healthy. The availability of houses for first-home buyers also increases as lazy landlords who don’t want to invest in improvements may dump their properties onto the market, increasing supply and thus reducing house prices (I must confess that I study Physics and Politics, not Economics, so I may have oversimplified it a bit).

What’s VUWSA doing about it?

We’ve been calling for improvements for a while now, but I’m delighted to say that the ‘talk’ is progressing to action. We’ve been meeting councillors, MPs, and other stakeholders on the issue, and this Wednesday we’re hosting the Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, in the Hub to announce her commitment to work on introducing a ‘warrant of fitness’ for Wellington rentals. Make sure you’re in the Hub at 1 pm on Wednesday to hear all the details. As usual, there will be pizza.

We’re combining this announcement with our Annual General Meeting, which is your chance to exercise your democratic rights as a VUWSA member and vote on important constitutional changes. While the bulk of the changes are grammatical, we are also proposing to open up our elections to all students, regardless of whether or not you’re a member. Come along and have your say on the proposal.

See you on Wednesday,

Rick Zwaan

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