A home to live in for as long as you want to?
Security of tenure offers a home’s occupants the confidence that their occupancy is guaranteed for an agreed specified period of time.
Tenure is subject to preference and aspiration. For example not everyone aspires to own their own home, and many people around the world are quite content to rent and invest their money in other areas. However, the concept of tenure ‘security’ is defined in terms of well-being and independence – as opposed to preference and aspiration.
In New Zealand’s commonly used model of tenure security, owning a home without a mortgage is considered the pinnacle of the hierarchy, while chronic homelessness is considered the least desirable tenure situation. While the stages at each extreme of the model are considered absolutes in terms of tenure “security”, the phases between are subject to debate.
New Zealand has one of the most insecure rental terms in the world
We know that when people are forced to move regularly, it has a negative impact on a number of psychosocial factors including education and health. It is also expensive. This is the unfortunate reality of renting in New Zealand.
However, Tenure security is often assured in other countries around the world regardless of the ownership of the property. Habitat staffer Ellen van der Knaap, who hails from the Netherlands, describes how her parents have rented the same home since they were married.
“They still rent the same home we grew up in, and they’re now in to their retirement years. There’s no pressure for them to leave and they can’t be kicked out for no reason – and that’s actually really normal in the Netherlands,” Ellen explains. “There are only a few reasons a landlord can end an agreement, and in most cases, a suitable alternative needs to be arranged.”
42 day notice to move, is that ethical?
Here in New Zealand, the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (RTA) defaults to a periodic tenancy which allows landlords to move tenants along at 42 days notice for certain reasons, or 90 notice for no reason. I challenge you to consider the morality of such a clause?
The RTA also allows tenants to give limited notice – we understand that tenants like flexibility so there must be a balance between the rights and obligations of both parties.
Home ownership may not be for everyone, but security is
Home ownership is not right for everybody, and moving through the housing continuum is part of wider lifestyle choices. But the tenure security that home ownership gives could be mirrored in other tenure models with some thought and debate.
The six dimensions of housing adequacy are:
Affordability, suitability, habitability, free from crowding, free from discrimination, security of tenure.
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