A run down student flat

What does three years in a student flat tell you about renting? Not much.

A question: how many of the politicians, civil servants, journalists and academics that discuss and debate housing are renters?

Whether sympathetic or otherwise, the reality is that few of the people involved in the public discourse around rentals have substantial experience of it.

Of course most politicians will have a nostalgic experience of a #characterbuilding experience in a drafty old flat, feeling that a couple of cold winters under three duvets offers them an insight into the reality of renting.

But this actually serves to reinforce the idea that renting is a temporary experience. For hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders renting is not temporary. It is living. The “dream” of home-ownership is just that, a dream.

For people without the means to pull together a deposit and the stability of income to commit to a mortgage their path to a securing a healthy, safe and affordable home must be through renting.

And yet we have nothing in place, legally or otherwise, that can deliver this.

We need organisations that work towards making this happen, that is what I want to get going. So that renters speak for themselves on these issues and so it becomes harder and harder for politicians to wax lyrical about their student days in Aro Street.

Renting is not a temporary or transitionary circumstance, especially in a distorted housing market like Wellington. We need to hear more renters in the public discourse because at the moment all the solutions proposed to the housing crisis only aim to address the supply of housing for homeownership and thus ignore one third of all households in our country.

Photo credit: Nick Thompson via Flickr.

3 thoughts on “What does three years in a student flat tell you about renting? Not much.”

  1. Totally agree that the voice of renters is missing from discourse – usually they appear as ‘people excluded from homeownership’, Not sure about your first point – does it matter so long as they support your cause? As an example, surely it wouldn’t matter if Gareth Hughes has been a renter for three or ten years? Although, I am speaking as a house owning academic who writes only about renting, I see the bigger issue is that people vote/make policy etc. in the interests of homeowners (own interests).

  2. No, it doesn’t matter. The point I was more trying to make is that flatting for a discrete time as part of the common (middle-class) cultural transition to adulthood is not an experience that gives much insight into the experience of being a long-term renter. Instead I think it contributes to a general sense that renting is temporary and as you say, a stage before home ownership.

  3. True. Can’t wait for you to get this going Rob. It’s so needed . It will be awesome if there is a strong renter voice/voices. Last time they reviewed the RTA more than 80% of submissions were from landlords. A good deal of the other submissions were sympathetic interest groups speaking on behalf of tenants.

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