The 2017 election year started with housing high on the agenda. Debate abounded about Auckland house prices and millennials spending too much on avocado on toast. Yet there was little mention of the almost half of the population who rent. While politicians debated the stats, renters were being left on the sideline.

Through a number of surveys, ActionStation members highlighted they wanted everyone to be able to live in a warm dry home in our country and highlighted concerns with what it's like renting.

We wanted to put renters’ stories at the heart of the debate. So ActionStation reached out to Renters United. Together, we completed this review.

Our aim is to highlight what it is actually like to rent in New Zealand. Successive governments have treated renters like second-class citizens. For too long we’ve become sick living in cold, damp places that we can’t call home because we have so few rights. This report aims to change that.


The People’s Review of Renting was a wide call to the public to share their stories of renting. Between June and July 2017, we invited anyone to share their story of renting and/or answer questions about the place they live in. Stories were submitted online, with the option to remain anonymous.

This is a collection of powerful stories of people’s real experience of renting. We are not suggesting that these stories represent the full range of renting experiences in Aotearoa. While we heard from a wide range of contributors, including a few landlords, we do not

claim to have a complete picture. This is not a rigorous quantitative study, but it is a rich source of qualitative data which helps to illustrate the human side of the issues raised in other forms of research. The 600+ experiences shared in this review are worth attention. We also found that the themes which emerge are consistent with numerous previous academic studies - which we also draw on in this report.

The People’s Review of Renting has been a highly collaborative, ambitious process. After members prioritised issues affecting people who rent, ActionStation reached out to Renters United. Together we created the submission process and sought responses from hundreds of people around the country. Numerous people have brought the report together. Kate Day and public health researcher Hilary Day read through and coded the stories. Independently, Abby Burns, a human centred designer and researcher, also did a thematic analysis of all the stories. Anna Mooney and Kayla Healey from Renters United conducted background research. Together Rick Zwaan, Kate Day and Abby Burns have co-written this report and Renee Pearson designed it. Paul Barber and other policy researchers gave feedback on the final draft. All of this was only possible because members of the ActionStation community chipped in to fund it, the Renters United team contributed numerous hours of expertise, and more than 600 people shared their experiences of renting.