Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The problem

Writing in the Herald, Brian Rudman puts his finger on the problem with housing policy:

In present-day New Zealand, instead of helping voters become property owners, MPs seem more skilled in amassing property portfolios for themselves. When you exclude the seven who own no property and the 34 who have just one each, the remaining 80 average more than three each. And that's excluding shareholdings in assorted Maori blocks. Among the haul are 60 investment or commercial properties, 17 lots of "bare land" and more than 170 houses, flats, holiday homes and "residential".

Could it be that as landlords and "investors", rather than renters, there's an understandable reluctance among MPs to bring the Wild West that is the residential renting market under control.

Dr Smith lists only a residential property, Mr English a family home and a farm, Mr Key a family home, a Huapai office, a London apartment and holiday homes in Omaha and Hawaii. So none would be personally affected by a warrant of fitness, either as landlord or tenant.

However, as a group, fewer than 6 per cent of MPs are non-home owners, compared to 35 per cent of all households. Is it any wonder that while they mouth support for minimum standards on rental housing, the landlord in most of them ensures the Emma-Lita Bournes continue to suffer.

And its worth noting that those multiple property-owners are overwhelmingly National MPs - the same people making decisions about standards for their rental homes. Its a huge conflict of interest, but it reveals a bigger problem: our MPs are no longer representative of us. They don't live the same sorts of lives as us, they don't face the same sorts of problems. They live in a completely different world. And its no wonder then that they ignore the real problems that ordinary kiwis face - because the closest most of them ever come to those problems is across an electorate office desk.