How can I get involved?
You can share your story, experience, thoughts and ideas with us online – click here.
At times the housing inquiry will put out a call for people to come forward to share their knowledge and expertise on a particular issue. If you believe you have information or expertise that is relevant to the inquiry, we encourage you to get in touch.
How will you protect the privacy and confidentiality of participants who are part of the inquiry?
When you submit your story, you can choose to put your name to it or keep it anonymised. The information you share will be used for the purpose of informing the work and findings of the housing inquiry.
If you give us consent, we may also publish your story on our website (with your first name or anonymously) or use it in statements to media and government (anonymously only). You can also ask us to delete your story from our website if you change your mind.
The Commission’s enquiries and complaints service is a confidential service and operates in compliance with our obligations under the Privacy Act 2020 and the Human Rights Act 1993.
The collection, use and storage of personal information by the Commission is done in accordance with our information management policy, the Privacy Act 2020, the Official Information Act 1982, the Public Records Act 2005 and the Human Rights Act 1993.
You have the right to ask for a copy of any personal information we hold about you, and to ask for it to be corrected if you think it is wrong. If you’d like to ask for a copy of your information, or to have it corrected, please contact us at [email protected], or 0800 496 877, or PO Box 10424, Wellington 6140.
What gives the Human Rights Commission the power to hold a housing inquiry?
The Commission’s functions are set out in the Human Rights Act 1993. One of our primary functions is to advocate and promote respect for, and an understanding and appreciation of, human rights in Aotearoa New Zealand society.
We can receive and invite representations from members of the public on any matter affecting human rights, and inquire generally into any matter if it appears to us that it involves, or may involve, the infringement of human rights.
Can the Commission take the Government to court if it thinks the housing crisis is a breach of human rights?
The right to a decent home is a binding international human rights obligation that the government must fulfill.
However, it has not been clearly recognised in domestic human rights law (the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990) and is not currently directly enforceable by going to court.
However, it is unlawful to discriminate against someone when you are providing housing or accommodation.
The Human Rights Commission provides free mediation and dispute resolution for complaints of discrimination, including in housing. Some cases may be referred to the Office of Human Rights Proceedings (OHRP), which is an independent part of the Commission. OHRP can take cases to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
There have been some legal cases about discrimination in housing. For example, in 2019 the Tribunal heard a case about discrimination against a prospective tenant because she was blind and reliant on a guide dog. The Tribunal agreed she had suffered unlawful discrimination.
These free mediation and legal services uphold one element of the right to a decent home (the right not to be discriminated against in the provision of housing) but the Commission isn’t legally able to provide the same services for the other features of the right to a decent home, such as affordability or sub-standard housing conditions.
Just because it’s not directly enforceable in court does not mean the Government can ignore the right to a decent home. It is still a binding international human rights obligation. This housing inquiry aims to raise the profile of this right and show how human rights can improve the housing system for everyone. The inquiry also aims to provide a platform for people to share their housing experiences and hold government publicly accountable for its housing policies and initiatives.