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Calls for Govt to clamp down on AirBnb, address costs of rentals – Maori Council

Maori Council calls on the Government to clamp down on AirBnb and address the increasing costs of rentals in New Zealand

The executive director of the New Zealand Maori Council, Matthew Tukaki, has called on the Government to clamp down on organisations like AirBnb and sent a warning to landlords and property managers to the threats of leaving rental homes empty as a way of pushing back against new tenancy laws.

Matthew says the country has a crisis in both the supply of homes for purchase and a tightening rental accommodation market and now is not the time to squabble like petulant investors. He has also reiterated that Maori have the highest rate of homelessness per head of population and one of the lowest rates of home ownership in the country.

"According to data released by Trade Me only a few short weeks ago the national median rent was 21 per cent higher than in 2015.

The highest rents are on Auckland's North Shore, at an average $620 a week. However, Wellington now out-prices Auckland with a median price of $580 per week. Porirua and Wellington City were equal-highest priced areas in the capital at an average $595 a week. Bay of Plenty rents also set new records at $535 a week," says Matthew.

"At the same time the unemployment rate is sitting at an average of around 5.3 per cent and wage growth has stalled. But in real terms the Maori unemployment rate has ballooned to now just more than 9 per cent and let’s not forget that on average Maori are part of the lower wage growth side of the economy – that means people are barely keeping their heads above water.

"Then take the fact that we have seen a surge in properties now moving into the short stay accommodation market, such as AirBNB and we have a situation where less and less stock is stoking rental increases for what remains. And that needs to end," says Matthew.

"And this crisis is not just in our large urban centres – figures show that in the West Coast of the South Island, also experiencing a massive housing shortage 409 properties have been added to the short stay market. The reality is the sector is out of control.

"Firstly, we want to see a clamp down on the short stay market – let's call it for what it is. If they want to operate then introduced an additional levy that at least can then be added to a pool for the build of more social housing and affordable housing solutions for lower income families.

"And for those property investors out there – stop listening to those property managers who are pushing their own barrows – and by the way having a home sitting empty, the threat from some on the industry, is all nonsense – since when did an investor want to sit on asset not generating an income?"

"We need a suite of measures to deal with this housing crisis and its time one of them included clamping down on the short stay market such as AirBnb – I would hope that all New Zealanders would rather support our army of small motel and hotel operators across the country who have done it tough in 2020 than some blokes empty room on Paritai Drive," Matthew says.

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