Wellington renters say they’ve had enough of exorbitant prices and hunting for properties in an overheated market.

But at a meeting last night about how to solve the problem they were told to brace themselves for things to get worse.

About 100 people – renters – landlords – property developers and politicians – were at the meeting.

Sarah Lee who lives in the central city has had some horror flatting situations.

“I’ve had really tense living situations – I’ve had unresponsive landlords – I’ve had hostile environments where the only place in the flat that I felt welcome was the bathroom with the door locked and sitting in the bath with the shower,” she said.

Another renter said renewing the lease each year was a nightmare.

“In these kind of conversations around raising things such as improving the quality of the insulation and checking – there’s still kind of an anxiety in terms of bringing that up because I know that every year rent has gone up,” she said.

Her flatmate said there was a power imbalance in favour of the landlords and it’s difficult to raise problems such as rotting floorboards and poor insulation.

“This isn’t the way we should be living in a developed country – a lot of us are civil servants that are earning reasonable incomes,” she said.

The meeting was hosted by city councillor Brian Dawson, who wasn’t in an optimistic mood.

“At the moment we know that the number of rental properties we have is already on the decrease and that’s for two reasons – one is because our for sale market is so high that people are cashing in – the other is healthy homes and other issues,” he said.

He said Wellington is short about 4000 homes.

“It takes a long time to build a house so we know we are underway – it is also about where we focus – so at the moment we do have a record number of building consents out in Wellington and that is a good sign,” he said.

Landlord Deborah East wanted more action from both the city council and the central government.

“I would like to see the government making covenants on land illegal – so that if I buy a section – I can put four mini houses on it if I want to,” she said.

She said until officials do something the Wellington rental market would remain in an unhealthy state.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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