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National cabinet housing package charts a path forward

Community Housing Industry Association/CHIA 2 mins read

Today’s National Cabinet package of planning and rental reforms are a step in the right direction towards tackling the housing crisis, particularly the breakthrough on inclusionary zoning, according  to peak housing advocacy bodies Community Housing Industry Association and  National Shelter

The package of reforms unveiled this afternoon includes: “Consideration of the phased introduction of inclusionary zoning and planning to support permanent affordable, social and specialist housing in ways that do not add to construction costs.”

The package also includes some notable reforms to improve renters’ rights, including moving towards a “national standard of no more than one rent increase per year for a tenant in the same property across fixed and ongoing agreements.” 

“Inclusionary zoning promises to be a real policy breakthrough,” said Wendy Hayhurst, CEO of CHIA. “It should ensure that new housing developments include a percentage of social and affordable homes, significantly expanding housing options for people on low and modest incomes. The particularly great thing about it is that it’s not a tax on development - the ‘cost’ is baked into the price paid for the land.” 

Emma Greenhalgh, CEO of National Shelter said the package of rental reforms was highly significant, and laid a platform for further reform. “A nationally consistent limit of one rental increase per year is a long overdue reform, as is a ban on soliciting rent bidding and stronger privacy protections for renters’ personal information.

“We have come a long way. Six months ago there was no prospect of a national reform push on renters’ rights, but today we have seen solid progress.   

“Despite this, rental reform remains unfinished business. We need upper limits on the quantum of rent increases for tenants to provide them with genuine stability and security.”

CHIA and National Shelter also applauded planning reforms outlined in today’s reform blueprint.

“If we are to get the supply we need, kinks in the planning process need to be ironed out to speed up the construction of social and affordable homes. Recognising that councils need resourcing to enable them to respond is also a  positive element of this package,” Wendy Hayhurst said. 

“A more robust community consultation at the beginning of the planning process will create greater legitimacy and support to build the housing we so desperately need,” Emma Greenhalgh added.  

While it is welcome that National Cabinet has committed to an ambitious increase in housing supply, going forward it is critically important that targets are also set for the percent of new supply that should be social and affordable rental housing. 

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