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Kiwi renters demand same financial certainties as homeowners amid coronavirus lockdown

A renters union has demanded the Government treat Kiwis renting property throughout the coronavirus pandemic with the same financial stability and care as that given to homeowners earlier this week.

A file image of a rental sign. Source: Photos.com

Yesterday, the Government announced a six-month mortgage holiday for homeowners to ensure Kiwis keep their properties while finances are strained by the lockdown and other issues surrounding Covid-19.

Now, Robert Whitaker, an organiser for Renters United, wants the same security for those renting during the pandemic.

"Yesterday, the Prime Minister assured homeowners that 'no-one would lose their home' due to Covid-19. The one-third of New Zealanders who rent need this same certainty, both during the lockdown and beyond," Mr Whitaker said in a statement.

"Renters, like all New Zealanders, will unite to fight Covid-19 but to do so we need a secure and stable home from which we can play our part. Renters United is calling for the Government to take urgent action to make this a reality."

As such, Renters United is urging the Government to tackle multiple aspects of renting life.

Some of the proposed requests include the introduction of a total eviction ban to keep renters in their home during the outbreak; a conversion of all fixed-term tenancies that expire during the outbreak into periodic tenancies; and the creation of a dedicated service to coordinate the identification and needs-based allocation of available housing to address homelessness, overcrowding and quality issues as they arise during the outbreak. 

Renters United also wants renters to be granted an automatic right to alter, terminate or reassign a fixed-term tenancy where their circumstances have changed due to Covid-19, with examples of this including people self-isolating away from their tenancy and students whose courses have been cancelled who have returned home.

"Together, these measures will put renters on an equal footing with homeowners and give us certainty through this crisis," Mr Whitaker added.

"Just as importantly, the measures will help ensure that after the crisis renters aren’t trapped in debt that makes it impossible for them to recover financially and fully contribute to the country’s recovery.

"The Government must act quickly and decisively so renters can contribute fully to the fight against Covid-19."

The Government has indicated that changes can be expected later this week to address the needs of renters.