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Monday, June 06, 2005

Whare: mythology, rights and privilege

"I was brought up in a state house" - Aye, lad, you had it lucky.

Thank heavens Kevin Lists' Scoop article has put that poor-boy/state-house corpse into it's coffin by way of debunking National millionaire John Key's rags to riches tale.

Mention that chestnut of state house childhood and we are all supposed to let out a plaintive sigh at how anyone from the wrong side of the tracks and living in such overt poverty could make it beyond struggle street. Lies and half-truths. Complete mythology. State houses were pepper-potted everywhere so many were in the better neighbourhoods with access to better schools. Rentals were very low and related to incomes. It is the benificaries and low-paid workers in private houses that were always, and are now, and will be in the future, in the most disadvantaged of circumstances.

The privileged class of yesteryear treated by the government to low rents with guaranteed tenure is as strong as ever. Why do you think so many have Sky satellite TV dishes bolted to their state homes? They can afford it paying only a quarter of their income in rent. Not only does this privileged class have the peace of mind of permanent tenure and low rent but if they want to move house they will have the state landlord render them every assistance in moving into another state house to their liking to keep them in the system. Do they move to the back of the queue to let others have a chance at cheap housing? - No, they are forever advantaged. And forever voting Labour to keep their rents low.

Who could forget the episode of the renters programme on television where the state landlord moves in some dodgy Jugoslav family who are supposedly refugees only to find they are having all of their household effects flown over! Some persecution that they can manage all that! How terrifying for them. Don't the immigration service know the war has ended and people like the NZ Army are keeping guard there? And then there was the Sudanese guy who kept rejecting state houses that didn't have two living areas because, as he told the tireless and unflappable agent, in our culture we can't have men and women socialising in the same room. Oh yes, this is for real.

Now imagine a non-immigrant telling the housing corp. guy that he can't stand the yakking sheilas and wants a separate entertaining area for them. Yes, sir, no sir, three bags full, sir. They just bend over backwards. It was sickening. Oh, yes and while we are at it a female circumscision altar, a male circumscision dias, a second and third wife punishment basement, a child bride de-flowering pogoda and a water-feature at the front to get the che right. There are locals living in fucking caravans and modified shithouses (often courtesy of unscrupulous foreign landlords) and the government sees fit to entertain and pander to the most grotesquely offensive whim in the pantheon of the palatial pretensions of every suspect "refugee" and immigrant.

Private tenants are vulnerable to the whims of their landlords and the idiotic and treacherous Labour Party have stabbed their own supporters in the back by letting an uppity lobby group of Lanlords have their way and now state agencies such as WINZ must give information on an errant tenant's whereabouts to lanlords to whom they supposedly owe money. The problem is this outrageous concession that advantages landlords and most definitely disadvantages the tenants and treats their privacy differently and as an inferior class does not apply to any other debtor - just landlords, the advantaged/privileged class.

So here we have a Labour government attacking and undermining the already vulnerable class of tenants not lucky enough or foreign enough to enjoy the luxuries and sanctity of their state system. Where are the howls of protests from the lefties? The government is attacking their people! They are handing over state agencies' information to a privileged group of litigants by way of an utterly inconsistent and persectorial lobbyists law - and nothing but silence from those supposed defenders of the little guy. Pathetic and shameful. How could they justify it? As a peverse insentive to join the state house queue? Did the landlords donate to the Labour Party? And now I see, emboldened by this mercenary regime, they want to implement a bloody register and grab some more state power for themselves (and against tenants) by demanding regulation. If the stupid government keeps following its course then that will pass too.

To see the militancy of the landlord's position see this site which has screeds on things the government should do for them (including making tenants give 6 weeks bond!) but has only one line under the heading "What can landlords do to assist tenants?" It just says "Keen to understand this and see what can be done." Whatever.

Because the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 does not give lanlords the same rights as other creditors and service providers does not mean they need countervailing special rights to government information.

I've looked everywhere for a link to the information law but I can't find it. I heard it debated in parliament as a government bill so it must have passed... surely [that ranting was based on fact].

As Cullen et al collude to keep our house prices high by interest rates, high immigration and foreign purchase and thus dissuade people from house ownership and because rental properties are now a normal though speculative business the landlord-tenant issue will become of growing importance over the next few years. Watch the landlords try to "balance their rights" by more inroads into the tenants'. And watch the Labour government roll over (again... I think).


At 8/6/05 9:54 am, Blogger sagenz said...

watch landlords not give a stuff about tenants paying. all they needed a few years ago to get money direct from welfare dept was the signature of the tenant. they would tell the govt to pay them their deposit and rent

At 9/6/05 3:14 pm, Anonymous Reasonable Ray said...

It's hard to disagree, that the current law is strongly in favour of the tenant. Any change should reflect a more balanced approached toward both parties, without erosion for either. Having said that, it surprises me more landlords don't use the "90 day notice for any reason" loophole for getting rid of errant tenants-that exists presently-rather than going through Tenancy Tribunal Hell. Who's going to wait the full 90 to go? I got the old "need the place for my sister" routine in one flat, only to find a week or two later when dropping by to collect mail, that the lovely Tonga woman who'd moved in was in no way related to my former landlady (who was English) so I rang her to wind her up about it, just for laugh, only to be told some other bullshit story. Why didn't she just 90 day me? I wouldn't have cared either way as i was happy to go. Landlord's make shit hard for themselves by being too soft half the time. Non-payment of rent I would suggest is the leading cause of eviction. What they as a group want are more rights to avoid these problems with the small percentage of essentially professional bludgers who never intend paying more than their initial bond and advance rent, and that sounds fair to me. However, most people aren't that kind of tenant. Stricter punishment for those who are, rather than onerous regulations for all, is the only answer.

At 9/6/05 4:54 pm, Blogger t selwyn said...

Yes the lobbyists want to extend the direct credit from WINZ to take priority - can't blame them for that. With Housing NZ now leasing properties off private owners the landlords can even cut the tenants completely out of the equation. Or rather Housing NZ beomes tenant. Sounds like a sweet deal... ie. it stinks. I'm more concerned though not with private landlords/property speculators making some easy dough out of the govt. but of the govt. providing parity for the same benificiary group rather than being so comfortable with such disparities and the creation of a privileged class. Although if the govt. leases houses off private landlords they can never have a rent-to-own policy like they used to. It's all a bit nefarious.

The property website linked in the post actually has a discussion in their forums where they openly refer to such "my brother wants to move in" deceptions. You think they would start their own Tenant Black List (privacy issues aside it could be collected from Tenancy Tribunal rulings to ensure it was "legit"). I agree that the non-payment is the leading cause and damage to the property is more of a secondary consequence that follows from being able to get away with dissing the landlord.

The problem I see it is that these landlords are becomming a more organised and powerful lobby group and "class" in the old, Victorian sense of the word, and the govt. may end up giving them too much power to not so much go after the errant minority but, as you allude, to regulate all the tenants (and landlords) which will piss everyone off. Their ideas like 6 weeks bond is just crazy. I know the Tenancy Tribunal is pro-tenant but commercial landlords as a comparison also have problems and they would prefer not so much a level playing field with the commercial but to use the Act as their weapon rather than the tenants'.

My own landlady wants to add a multi-story-dwelling at the rear of the property. At least she's told me - even before any plans have been made or permission sought. If mortgage rates weren't so high perhaps it wouldn't come to this? There goes the bloody neighbourhood, section by section.


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