Are Auckland's most vulnerable being taken advantage of by landlords?

An Auckland property owner who is renting out rooms to some of the city's most disadvantaged, including sickness beneficiaries and mental health patients says he's helping solve Auckland's housing crisis.

Tony Xu owns five boarding houses, but three are so substandard the council has forced him to shut them down.

The Salvation Army's Alan Johnson says the conditions in the homes are deplorable.

"Anyone who went into those places would think it’s a pretty miserable place to live."

Around the back of one particular flat, a makeshift toilet is built on top of a deck covered only by a basic garden shed.

The bathroom is opposite a so-called bedroom that's just two by two metres, the size of which is illegal.

Thomas, one of eight beneficiary residents living in the eight bedroom house, squeezed in a three bedroom footprint, pays $290 a week.

He says he's got nowhere else to go.

"I feel ashamed you know, I'm 58 and I've worked twenty years of my life and I'm on the bones of my arse."

Just a few blocks away there are houses for rent where the rooms on average work out at least a hundred dollars a week less.

So, why can't Thomas and his fellow tenants just move there?

No investors or letting agents will say this in public but they've told 1 News, few property owners would rent out their places to these vulnerable people because they're too high risk.

Tony Xu didn't want to talk to us except for a phone call, saying his prices are determined by the market.

Although his properties might be illegal but his rental prices are not.

Alan Johnson believes there are thousands of people probably being exploited by landlords like Tony Xu.

He wants to see more social housing, better tenant protection and more oversight from the Ministry of Social Development.

"All they're doing is simply giving the landlord money to house that person without any regard for what sort of housing he's providing."

Some landlords say they are trying to help Auckland's most needy – but at what cost? Source: 1 NEWS



Man charged after loaded gun pointed at Auckland police officers fails to fire during violent late night incident

A man faces multiple charges after a loaded gun was aimed at police officers in Auckland last night.

Police allege the man presented a cut-down rifle at the officers and pulled the trigger twice but it did not discharge as the safety catch was on.

The incident happened in Atkinson Ave, Otahuhu at around 9.35pm.

The 36-year-old is accused of two counts of using a firearm against law enforcement, along with charges for unlawful possession of ammunition, causing injuries, unlawful possession of a pistol and unlawfully taking a motor vehicle.

And more charges are possible, police said.

Police were attempting to pull over a stolen vehicle when the driver jumped out and ran up to the police car, pointing the weapon and pulling the trigger before the officers could respond, police said in a statement.

The man dropped the gun after police tasered him, but he had to be tasered a second time when he tried to get inside the officers' vehicle, police said.

One of the officers was punched twice in the face as they attempted to subdue the man, according to police. He was tasered again while attempting to run away.

"Our community will be horrified by this alarming incident, which could have easily had a tragic outcome for our police officers," said Inspector Naila Hassan, the area commander for Counties Manukau West, as she praised the officers for their quick thinking.

"Our brave staff come to work every day to keep the public safe and the absolute last thing they deserve is to be threatened with a firearm."

Deputy Commissioner Districts John Tims echoed the sentiment.

"Our staff should not have to deal with these types of situations, but the reality of policing means our officers are put in dangerous situations every day," he said.

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS

The man is expected to make an appearance in the Manukau District Court today.

The two officers were saved by the fact the safety catch was on. Source: 1 NEWS


Auckland’s median house price increases for the first time in six months

Auckland’s median house price increased year-on-year for the first time in six months as the median house price outside the country’s biggest city had a 6.2 per cent annual increase, according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) data.

In August, the median price in Auckland rose 1.4 per cent to $852,000, according to the latest data.

"After six months of flat prices in Auckland it is positive to see an increase as we head towards spring," Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at REINZ, said.

"Breaking the Super City down into its old regional boundaries has shown that areas with solid annual median price increases were Manukau and Waitakere Cities with rises of 10.1% and 5.1% respectively. Whereas, North Shore City saw a fall of -14.6% year-on-year to a median price of $915,000 the lowest median the North Shore has seen since January 2016," she said.

In New Zealand, the median house price increased 3.6 per cent year-on-year to $549,000.

With the median house price outside Auckland rising by 6.2 per cent, three regions achieved record median prices with two regions equalling previous records.

The record breakers were Gisborne, where the median price went up 42.6 per cent to $335,000, Tasman where the median rose 24.2 per cent to $615,000 and Manawatu/Wanganui, where the price went up 10.5 per cent to $315,000.

Waikato’s median house price increased by 9.4 per cent to $525,00 to equal the record from June while the media price in Hawke’s Bay rose 9.9 per cent to $445,000, equalling a record from March this year.

Auckland, New Zealand - January 11, 2014: New Homes on January 11, 2014. House prices are booming around New Zealand - with the average price of an Auckland city home rocketing to $735,692.
Auckland houses (file picture). Source: istock.com

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New Zealand new Ambassador to the US named

Diplomat Rosemary Banks has been announced as New Zealand's new Ambassador to the United States, taking over the role from Tim Groser.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said Ms Banks was "highly experienced diplomat and public servant who will be a consummate professional in representing New Zealand's interests in Washington". 

She currently is a Crown Negotiator in the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process and has held roles in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Ms Banks also was New Zealand's Ambassador to France and Portugal.

"The Government also wishes to acknowledge the departing Ambassador, Hon Tim Groser for his service. He has been a strong advocate for New Zealand and has been successful in cementing the relationship between our two countries," Mr Peters said. 

Rosemary Banks, Political Science and International Relations, 7.11.16
Rosemary Banks. Source: Supplied


Lifeline turns down help offer despite struggling to cope with volume of calls

Lifeline has refused help from another helpline provider, even though it's struggling to cope with the volume of calls it's getting.

Last week, Lifeline launched a new fundraising campaign, saying a lack of money meant it wasn't able to answer one in four calls.

Homecare Medical gets Government funding to operate a number of health, depression, and counselling helplines, known as the national telehealth service.

It said it had offered support to Lifeline multiple times over the last three years, when its call demand outstripped resources.

Homecare Medical chief executive, Andrew Slater, said that to date that offer hadn't been taken up.

"Part of our work is to support the entire health system in responding to New Zealanders' needs. This includes supporting other helplines in their work. This includes advice on technology, sharing operational policy and procedures and during times of peak demand, supporting them when they can't respond to their demand," he said.

Homecare Medical remained willing to work with Lifeline to find a solution to ensure all calls were answered, he said.

Lifeline wouldn't say why it hadn't taken up the offer.

It said its discussions with Homecare Medical were ongoing.

In 2015, Homecare Medical won the contract to operate the National Telehealth Service.

The 24/7 free helplines it operates include Healthline, Quitline, 1737 Need to Talk?, and the Depression Helpline.

Lifeline is part of Presbyterian Support Northern. It does not receive Government funding.

Lifeline declined a request for an interview.

By Sarah Robson

rnz.co.nz

The telco is doing away with the old technology and switching to an internet based system.
Source: 1 NEWS


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