Shocking stories faced by Kiwi renters detailed in new report

Mandatory warrants of fitness for rental homes and rent rise limits are being called for by a lobby group, following the release of its damning report into New Zealand's rental market.

The report reveals the number of people who spend over half their income renting run-down and overcrowded houses is increasing. Source: Breakfast

But landlords say the changes recommended in the report would do more harm for renters than good.

The People's Review of Renting report, released by lobby groups Renters United and ActionStation today, compiles the testimonies of about 600 renters from June and July this year.

The submitters were self-selecting and gathered through a voluntary online survey.

Many of the accounts paint a bleak picture of cold, damp and mouldy homes, with 70 per cent saying their rental home did not have ceiling or underfloor insulation and 52 per cent saying their home wasn't weather-tight.

More than a quarter said their health was being affected.

"This report highlights the experiences of renters, many of whom feel powerless, insecure and like second-class citizens," Renters United spokeswoman Kate Day said.

The report's authors recommend:

* Introducing a mandatory rental warrant of fitness

* Limiting rent rises - proportionally to minimum wage rises - and abolishing letting fees

* Make it so tenants can't be evicted without fault, including if the house is sold.

But the Property Investors' Federation disputes both the findings and the recommendations, saying more scientific research has found 77 per cent of rentals have insulation.

"There are already many regulations controlling the standard of rental properties in New Zealand and high penalties for landlords who do not meet these regulations," executive officer Andrew King said.

"Having tenants take control of the property without any benefit or allowance to the owner would see many rental properties removed from the market. This would not be good news for tenants."

The Green Party says it supports many of the recommendations in the report, including the WOF and greater security for renters.

"With nearly half of New Zealanders renting, the grim findings of the review are a wakeup call about the true state of rentals," social housing spokeswoman Marama Davidson said.

Wellington City Council last week announced a voluntary rental warrant of fitness standard.



Netsafe won't pursue Sir Ray Avery's complaint over media website

Scientist and entrepreneur Sir Ray Avery will have to go to the district court if he wants to pursue his complaint about media website Newsroom any further.

Sir Ray complained to Netsafe under the Harmful Digital Communications Act, regarding five articles Newsroom had published about fundraising he was doing for his LifePod inventions, and about his other past products.

He said the articles caused him severe emotional distress and amounted to harassment and digital harm under the Act.

Newsroom has refused to take the articles down.

Netsafe Director Martin Cocker said there isn't anything more Netsafe can do through mediation.

"As soon as one party says, you know they're not prepared to engage in the process, then that's a pretty strong sign that it's time for Netsafe to conclude its process."

That mediation process is a mandatory first step under the Act, and most Harmful Digital Communications Act complaints are sorted at this point.

However Mr Cocker said the main thing they do to get resolution, is to advise parties on what the likely legal ramifications are of different actions that they might take.

In this case, Mr Cocker said, there is not clarity in the Act about how these particular cases should be handled.

"It is for the court to set that precedent, so our recommendation is that has to happen," he said.

Mr Cocker said if they did not feel they could progress the case, their advice was to consider taking it to the district court. But he said that was "entirely optional" for the complainant.

By Gia Garrick

rnz.co.nz

Newsroom is standing by its reporting on the former New Zealander of the Year, and questioning the method of the complaint.
Sir Ray Avery. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

What to do and what not to do if you come across a kiwi in the wild

A rare daytime encounter with a kiwi on the Heaphy Track got TVNZ1's Seven Sharp thinking - what to do and what not to do when you come across the native bird in the wild.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) says it's pretty unusual for these nocturnal birds to be out during sunshine hours.

As we all know kiwi don't fly so escaping predators can be pretty tricky. An average of 27 are killed every week, so we've got to be pretty careful around them.

DOC gave Seven Sharp some important tips to remember if you encounter one of these unique birds.

Firstly stay still and just enjoy the rare experience. Stay a few metres away and don't worry if they approach you, just keep still.

Second, don't move towards the bird or try to pick it up - it's an offence to hold kiwi without permission from DOC.

Also, be weary of their sharp claws - they're wild animals and can get stroppy.

Lastly, feel free to take photos or video, but only in low light conditions and don't use a flash as it can stun the birds.
 


An encounter with one of the birds on the Heaphy Track got us thinking. Source: Seven Sharp

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Farmers fear summer El Nino drought as Spring rains wipe out lamb stocks

Farmers across the North Island counting the cost of a wild start to spring, with thousands of lambs lost due to heavy rain, may soon have another problem to contend with.

Their attention has turned to the coming summer, with those on the East Coast concerned a predicted El Nino weather pattern could bring drought, turning the green hills bone dry.

"It's a matter of making decisions early and keeping an eye on it, a drought normally happens slowly, and you've got some time to get used adapt to it," Federated Farmers Jim Galloway says.

The warning comes as some Hawke's Bay farmers have reported losing nearly 30 per cent of their flocks due to recent heavy unseasonal rain.

Farmer Ben Crosse told 1 NEWS that he lost around 750 of his new-borns.

"New-born lambs are very vulnerable, particularly in the young ewes who are having their first lamb and are a bit more hesitant.

"The lamb birth weight's lighter, so it takes the first-born lamb a wee while to get a drink, and they sometimes can't get going in the rain," Mr Crosse said.

After a wet start, it could be a long hot summer ahead for many New Zealand lambs.

Some Hawke’s Bay farmers have reported losing nearly 30 per cent of their flock. Source: 1 NEWS


Clever kea using tools to raid traps

A native bird famous for its mischievious behaviour has now figured out how to use tools, researchers have found.

Researchers have found that world's only alpine parrot - the kea - in the South Island's Murchison Mountains is using sticks to get food out of stoat trap boxes.

The findings by Gavin Hunt and Mat Goodman have been printed in the Scientific Reports Journal.

The pair found that over a 30-month period, 227 different traps had been raided using sticks across the ranges, which indicated many kea were responsible.

The trapping is part of a Department of Conservation operation to protect Takahe.

From 2002 to 2009 the traps were untouched, but then trappers began to notice the boxes tipped upside down. Some had stones in them and a growing number had sticks in them.

"It's an incredible amount of tool-using," Mr Hunt, an ecologist, said.

Trail cameras were set up and filmed a kea probing a trap-box with sticks.

It is the first evidence of non-humans using a tool in the country.

Mr Hunt said it would have taken many years for kea to develop the technique.

"It seems to be unique... a non-tool using bird having such extensive tool using behaviour and repeatedly using tools over many years."

"It shows the kea has high general intelligence to invent the tool use and keep using the tools to get the eggs out of the trap-boxes."

This suggests how cognitively demanding its been for the birds to figure out the technique, which shows its intelligence, he said.

It may be more difficult to invent tool use in the wild because the natural food is better hidden and more demanding to find, he said.

Having a situation where the food is sitting in a box and easier to see and reach could have encouraged the birds to invent the tool, the research suggests.

Kea are known to have used tools while in captivity but not in the wild, Mr Hunt said.

He said this makes kea one of the better candidates for New Zealand's "smartest bird".

Further research is now needed to discover if kea can use the tool to hunt for legitimate sources of food in its natural environment, he said.

rnz.co.nz

Forest and Bird estimate less than 7000 kea remain.
Source: 1 NEWS