New Zealand: Rent striker evicted

Issue 

Rent striker evicted

By Russel Norman

AUCKLAND — Police have evicted rent striker Len Parker from his house in Auckland. Parker had been barricaded in for 45 days after refusing to pay more than 25% of his income in rent. He was supported by rallies of hundreds of people.

The house is owned by state-owned Housing New Zealand, which owns about 50,000 rental properties across NZ. In 1995, Housing NZ abandoned income related rent charges to charge market-level rents. The government's rent assistance payments did not cover the increased cost to residents.

This has left many Housing NZ properties empty while families are living in garages, caravans, tents and staying with friends. Chronic overcrowding in south Auckland has been linked to the outbreak of "Third World" diseases in the area.

Housing NZ's policy of market rents also pushed up private rent charges because Housing NZ owns so many properties.

The Labour Party and NZ Alliance are promising to reintroduce a rent charge of 25% of residents' income if elected this year.

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