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Rent freeze, intended to protect tenants during Covid-19 lockdown, ends today

A freeze on rent increases for residential properties is coming to an end today, which advocates say is a concern for tenants in New Zealand's flooded market.

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Robert Whitaker from Renters United says stronger rules around increases are needed. Source: Breakfast

The halt was put in place before the Level 4 lockdown earlier this year by the Government as part of its Covid-19 response.

It aimed to protect tenants, and ensure they didn't lose the roof over their heads if they lost their income or livelihood due to the pandemic.

Robert Whitaker from advocacy group Renters United expects a "bit of a bump" when it comes to rent prices around the country. He says there will be quite a few deferred increases that landlords will try and catch up on. 

"We definitely think there will be a big step up and a catch up by landlords - we do expect that to happen."

He says "a lot of tenants will need to make a lot of tough decisions" as to whether they can afford those increases. The reality is New Zealand need some stronger rules around what increases are allowed, he says, explaining that there is a also a supply issue. 

There is "just not enough houses across all of the housing system".

For those that can't afford the increases, he says there is some support available.

"MSD [Ministry of Social Development] can help for some people so there's the accommodation supplement, there's other forms of help.

"They should also think about talking to somebody like Community Law and see if they can help them write a letter or something to their landlord to explain their situation."