It’s time to improve squatter’s rights in New Zealand | The Jackal

19 Aug 2022

It’s time to improve squatter’s rights in New Zealand


There is something that most Kiwis have in common. We usually care about each other and want to see everyone have a chance at a successful life. One of the exceptions to this rule is of course landlords, who more often than not will bleed their tenant’s dry, or simply evict them out of spite.

As I’m sure you’re aware, the Labour government recently implemented their Healthy Homes Standards, which became law on 1 July 2019. Many slumlords were so outraged about these improved standards, that instead of adhering to the affordable requirements to provide a warm and dry place for people to reside in, they simply evicted their tenants.

This has inevitably increased the number of homeless people in New Zealand, including those who now live in vehicles.

Yesterday, 1 News reported:

Number of children listed as living in cars more than 200

The number of children living in cars has gone up dramatically since the Government came to power.

Those on the ground are blaming rent prices and are pleading with the Government to do more.

The number of children listed as living in cars has gone from 51 at the end of 2017, to 228 in June this year.

The numbers are pulled when people apply for help from the Ministry of Social Development. People are asked where they're living and if they have children.

The number of people living in tents also climbed, with 21 at the end of 2017, up to 84 this June.

One of the solutions to this growing problem would be to increase squatter’s rights in New Zealand. We have lots of empty houses, many of them becoming derelict because of disuse and vandalism, and we have lots of homeless people who cannot afford to rent a house because the welfare system doesn’t provide enough money to those without an address for service.

Prior to 2013, taking possession of an abandoned house used to be legal in places like England and Wales. This meant in times of crisis, such as after the Second World War, people could still find accommodation and survive. But unfortunately the real estate industry has achieved too much influence over our politicians. The door was shut on the homeless in Great Britain, even though allowing people to occupy unused dwellings so they don’t become exposed to the elements is entirely the right thing to do.

The alternative is to have rough sleeping and more children living in vehicles, whereby they will struggle to attain an education and sustain their well-being, which will have lasting negative effects for them and society in general.

$4 million worth of mansion in Oriental Bay sits abandoned.

Similar to the Tories in England, unfortunately the National Party in New Zealand isn’t proposing any solutions to this growing problem. In fact their policies would make things worse. Along with proposing harsher sanctions on disabled beneficiaries, which would assuredly increase the number of people who cannot afford to pay their rent, the blue "teams" current leader, Christopher Luxon, is only interested in throwing stones at Jacinda Ardern.

Along with providing homeless people with more resources to attain a roof over their heads through improved squatter's rights, the Government should also implement an Empty House Levy to ensure property owners who aren’t utilising their assets properly are penalized appropriately. We don’t want lots of homeless people on the streets while perfectly good houses remain empty…and we don’t want Kiwi kids living in cars either.