When we entered Government, we also inherited a housing crisis - a product of nine long years of neglect. New Zealanders were struggling to buy their own home, and those who were renting were too often living in cold and unhealthy conditions.
Everyone deserves a warm, healthy, and affordable home. We set out immediately to take action and tackle this housing crisis. In our first 100 days, we took some major steps to ease the pressure and change how our housing market operates here in New Zealand. Since then, we've kept on the move, working to create affordable, high-quality homes across the country.
- We put a stop to overseas speculators.
In our first 100 days, we initiated the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill to stop overseas speculators from buying up Kiwi homes and driving up property prices. This Bill officially came into effect on October 23rd.
- We stopped the state house sell-off - and committed to building more state houses.
The large scale house sell-off did nothing to help Kiwis who needed it most. We immediately put a stop to the sales of state houses initiated by the previous Government, and we committed to building more state houses across the country.
The single most important thing the Government can do to solve the housing crisis is to build more affordable homes. The best way to tackle homelessness is to build more public housing. Our plan increases public housing by 6,400 homes over the next four years – 1,600 a year.
- We launched KiwiBuild to help make home ownership affordable again for Kiwi families.
The Government’s KiwiBuild initiative will build 100,000 affordable houses over the next 10 years, giving hope to first-home buyers and addressing New Zealand’s housing crisis. Through KiwiBuild and policies to drive speculation out of the market, including the ban on non-resident foreign buyers, the Government is delivering a more stable housing market.
The end of October saw the first 18 families welcomed into new KiwiBuild homes, situated in the McLennan development in Papakura. It’s fitting that we welcomed the first KiwiBuild families into their own homes on the first anniversary of forming our Government.
- We invested in Housing First programme to end homelessness for Kiwis and Kiwi families.
In this year’s Budget our Government allocated new spending to expand and sustain Housing First services for more than 1,450 households over the next four years, including a boost to ongoing services to help more than 900 households in the Housing First programme in Auckland, Christchurch, Tauranga, Wellington and the Hutt, and expanding the Housing First programme to help a further 550 households in other regions.
- We banned letting fees.
When moving into a new rental property, tenants can face up to four weeks’ bond, two weeks’ rent in advance – and one weeks’ rent as a letting fee – in addition to moving costs. Banning the charging of letting fees to tenants is a good first step in improving the life of renters, taking action now to make rent more affordable so people can save to buy their own home if they choose to do so.
- We made sure rentals are up to scratch.
One of the first things we did upon entering Government was to introduce the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill, setting minimum standards landlords must meet to ensure their homes are warm, dry, and healthy for tenants to live in. This Guarantee is due to take effect in July 2019.
- We sought justice for people evicted from their homes under flawed use of meth contamination standards.
Under the previous Government, the flawed use of meth contamination standards resulted in tenants being unnecessarily evicted from state houses and Housing NZ spending $100 million on mostly unnecessary testing and remediation. Our Government did not create this problem but we are responsible for fixing it.
- We took serious, urgent action to tackle homelessness over the winter months - and exceeded our target.
The Ministry of Social Development worked on the ground with providers and communities across New Zealand to urgently increase housing supply this winter. We committed to pulling out all the stops, making sure everyone is helped to find warm, dry housing this winter, and our most vulnerable people and families get the intensive help they need.
While we originally aimed to have 1,500 people housed over the winter, we actually exceeded this target, with record numbers of people coming forward for help.
We're already planning for winter 2019 and are full steam ahead with our plans to build even more transitional houses and 6,400 new public housing places around the country over the next four years.
- We consulted with the public on how to make life better for renters.
The Reform of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 sought submissions from the public and industry on proposed changes to the Act. We ran an eight-week consultation with the public, asking for feedback on new Government proposals aimed at making life better for renters, striking a balance between providing tenants with security of tenure and allowing them to make their house a home, while protecting the rights and interests of landlords.