A 'decent home' has security of tenure

A home with secure tenure 

Security of tenure is about people’s ability to access a stable home, where they can put down roots, and be able to choose if, and when they move, whether they own their home or not. Tenure security can be measured directly – by asking people if they have been forced to move – and indirectly by comparing mobility between owners and renters and evaluating whether mobility has changed over time.  Indirect tenure security data is more readily available and shows change over time.  

Recent reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 should help improve renters’ tenure security but we don’t have data to measure that change yet. The data we do have shows that while renters experience lower security of tenure than homeowners, this has improved slightly since 2001 and there has been a reduction in the proportion of people living in their home for less than a year. Progressive realisation is being met in that the situation is improving, but more data is needed to accurately capture all aspects of tenure security. 

Indicator 1: low tenure security by age group 

For the total population, the proportion of people who had lived at their home for less than a year (which indicates lower tenure security) increased between 1991 and 2001. However, by 2018, it had declined again to be very similar to 1991 levels.  For people aged less than 40, this indicator of tenure security worsened in the 1990s, before improving from 2013 onwards. However, 20–29-year-olds and 30–39-year-olds in 2018 were more likely to have lived in their home for less than a year in 2018 compared with their counterparts in 1991.   

Graph showing the proportion of people who had lived at their home for less than a year increased between 1991 and 2001. However, by 2018, it had declined again to be very similar to 1991 levels. For people aged less than 40, this indicator of tenure security worsened in the 1990s, before improving from 2013 onwards. However, 20–29-year-olds and 30–39-year-olds in 2018 were more likely to have lived in their home for less than a year in 2018 compared with their counterparts in 1991. 

Indicator 2: low tenure security for homeowners and renters 

In New Zealand renters experience lower tenure security than owner-occupiers. Between 2006 and 2018 the proportion of people living in their home for less than a year, decreased from 24.2 percent in 2006 to 19.8 percent in 2018. This was driven by an improvement for renters with the proportion of renters in their home for less than 1 year falling from 42.5 percent in 2006 to 33.7 percent in 2018. Owner-occupiers still have higher tenure security, but this gap has narrowed.  

Graph showing that between 2006 and 2018 the proportion of people living in their home for less than a year, decreased from 24.3 percent in 2006 to 19.8 percent in 2018. This was driven by an improvement for renters with the proportion of renters in their home for less than 5 years falling from 42.5 percent in 2006 to 33.7 percent in 2018.

Indicator 3: tenancy ended by landlord was main reason for moving  

In 2018, 18 percent of people who had rented, who moved in the last five years, gave tenancy being ended by the landlord as a main reason for moving, this is considered a forced move. People with Asian ethnicity were significantly less likely to cite this as their main reason for moving than people with Māori, Pacific or European ethnicities. Although the differences for Māori are not statistically significant, research has shown that Māori have experienced unaffordable and poor-quality housing, and institutional racism in the rental market (F Cram & M Munro, 2020).  

Graph showing in 2018, 18 percent of people who had rented, who moved in the last five years, gave tenancy being ended by the landlord as a main reason for moving, this is considered a forced move. People with Asian ethnicity were significantly less likely to cite this as their main reason for moving than people with Māori, Pacific or European ethnicities.

Read the full commentary about tenure security here.