17 April 2020
Trust House puts freeze on rent increases
In response to the economic and social impact of the Covid-19 lockdown Trust House has put a freeze on planned rent increases and introduced other additional support for tenants.
With 483 rental properties in Wairarapa and Tararua, Trust House is one of the largest community housing providers in New Zealand.
Trust House chief executive Allan Pollard says rent increases of on average between $20 – $25 had been planned to take effect from the end of March.
“It became clear that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the measures to combat it were going to hurt people financially, so we acted pretty much straight away and put them on hold,” Mr Pollard says.
The March rent increases, that were signalled in December last year, only related to tenants who are not on an Income Related Rent Subsidy. The rents that Trust House charge remain among the lowest in New Zealand, according to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment data.
Mr Pollard says the organisation is very conscious that a number of their tenants will be doing it “really tough” during this time of tremendous uncertainty.
“We have been phoning all of our tenants weekly to make sure that they are okay and have everything they need.”
As an essential service Trust House has kept its Rental Housing office on Queen Street in Masterton open Monday to Friday, 10am – 1pm, to be available to tenants who require further support.
Masterton Foodbank coordinator Lynn Tankersley says an additional $20,000 charitable donation from Trust House couldn’t have come at a better time.
“The Foodbank is currently experiencing record demand with many families really struggling at the moment,” Ms Tankersley says.
“There is just so much demand for food parcels, and some of the basic foods like pasta seem to be in quite short supply,” she says.
Mr Pollard says all 200 Trust House staff are currently being paid 100% of their normal income. Of this, about 20 staff continue to work from home, and a further 22 are working in essential services.
“We have, for example, staff still working at the Copthorne which is open for essential workers such as truck drivers that are delivering produce, and also some DHB staff.”
The Solway Park complex is one of only two Millennium Copthorne Hotels in the county that has managed to stay partially open during the current lockdown.
Mr Pollard says like many organisations Trust House will be taking a big financial hit, however it is well placed to “weather the storm”.
“All our bars and restaurants are currently closed, so that is a considerable loss of revenue.”
“But the work that we have done over the last few years has put us in a good financial position to ride out the crisis. If this had happened four or five years ago we would have been under real financial pressure, but no such worries now.”
Due to the trading restrictions, all Grants from the foundation and sponsorships from the company are on hold until a few months after when trade can fully resume.