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Key dismisses Green Party's housing scheme as 'Monopoly'

Published: 8:49AM Thursday January 24, 2013 Source: ONE News

The Green Party announced an ambitious new housing plan today, which it says will will help solve the country's housing crisis.

The rent-to-buy initiative is part of the Green's Home for Life scheme which consists of three policies, including allowing families to move into homes without paying a deposit.

But the Government insists borrowing for housing in tough economic times is not the way to go.

"The Greens haven't announced a housing policy," said Prime Minister John Key.

"They've just announced the next version of Monopoly. You know they want to print money, now they want to buy houses. I mean, what's next?"

The Greens say current housing policies leave out low to middle income Kiwis who want to own a home, and tenancy laws are out of date and don't protect the increasing number of New Zealanders who rent.

Sharissa Naidoo, 25, and her partner have been renting together for four years and say they are desperate to buy their first home.

"The concern is if we're wanting to start a family and move into a house that's more than one bedroom, we can't afford that," Naidoo said.

Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei said the progressive home ownership plan would see families have an agreement with government and a government-built house.

"The way it'd work is they would pay a rent which would cover the cost of the capital that government has spent building the home. And they would also then be able to pay extra to buy equity in the home over time."

She said the equity operates like savings within the house so over time they'd be able to build up their savings and eventually they might be able to get a commercial mortgage to buy outright.

Turei admitted with the increasing housing shortage, government engagement is essential for the scheme to be carried out.

"The Labour Party has suggested 100,000 homes under Kiwibuild. National says they're also going to build homes, they haven't done that yet of course, but they also have a home building programme."

The progressive homeownership scheme has no net cost to the government, she said.

"We think it is affordable both for Government and for middle and low income families who are currently locked out."

"So many whanau are unable to service a mortgage, don't have the savings for a deposit, are living in cold, damp homes," she said.

The Greens' initiative also proposes a warrant of fitness for rental homes for things like insulation and weather tightness and a law change so landlords can only raise rent once a year.

The Greens say the scheme would work well with Labour's housing policy, which plans to build 100,000 low cost homes over ten years.