Council rents 'too high'

A review of Dunedin City Council's housing policy is being called for in a petition being circulated by Labour's Dunedin South candidate, Clare Curran.

A 16% increase in rent for the council's nearly 1000 rental units came into effect yesterday, as the city council sought to cover the increasing cost of contractors and of funding depreciation that was needed to build new units.

Ms Curran said an up to 35% increase in rent for the units in two years was much too high.

It had been the main concern expressed to her during her door-knocking campaign in South Dunedin.

"It's got out of hand and a urgent review of housing policy is needed."

The council needed to sit down with other agencies involved in delivering services, particularly to the elderly whose October Government superannuation increase would be swallowed up by the rent increase, she said.

"There has to be a better way to deliver housing at more affordable rents."

The continued increase in rents was unsustainable for people living on pensions or benefits and facing increased food and fuel costs, she said.

She had started a petition in the past week which she planned to present to the city council.

Age Concern Otago executive officer Susan Davidson said they had received calls from a few council tenants concerned about their ability to pay their rents.

"It's come at a rotten time. It's an expensive time of year to keep warm and there has been an enormous hike in food prices."

The elderly were among some of the most vulnerable people in society and she urged the council not to view its rents solely through an economic lens.

Rents needed to be sustainable as people on a benefit could not cope with annual increases, she said.

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