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Labour heads to Select Committee over RTA bill

They wrote it, they support it, but after the National Party introduced The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill to Parliament, the Labour Party says it still needs changes.

By Vicki Holder

Labour's housing spokesperson Moana Mackey says they will take it to the Select Committee to try to make sure changes happen.

Mackey says the Residential Tenancies Act is a piece of legislation that was overdue for an update.

"We did a lot of work on it in 2004 and much of what's in it needs to happen. We're happy to support those parts of it," she says. However, she says, the National Party has made significant changes of concern.

"Our legislation had more protection for the tenants. For example, we supported the idea of having professional advocates in the tribunal. It's unfair to say Housing New Zealand aren't professionals in what they do. We wanted to provide a balance at the tribunal."

She says Clause 35 of the bill is a worry, as it gives the ability to evict someone through the Tenancy Tribunal if a guest engages in threatening behaviour. But there's no ability for a person convicted to defend themselves.

"If you have a number of people who have removed their children from a violent home environment, and they have no control over whether their partner turns up and starts threatening people, we're scared these courageous women could find themselves evicted. We want to provide protection for these situations."

She adds that at the moment, someone in the state housing sector is asking to evict tenants who are not desirable. "They haven't allowed people who are on bail applying for houses."

Mackey says Labour will be looking at a Select Committee to consider putting protection into the legislation for these people.

"We support the bulk of the bill, we wrote it, but it still needs to be updated."


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