Tenant advocates are calling for rent controls and European-style laws requiring landlords to provide a "just cause" for evicting tenants.
Auckland Tenants Protection Association co-ordinator Angela Maynard told Parliament's social services select committee yesterday that rents were rising faster than wages - in one case by $90 a week.
"I had a case last week, a guy in Mt Eden who has lived in a house for seven years and is having his rent put up $90 a week," she said.
"I did some research and the [proposed] rent was consistent with other homes in the area of the same size, but the percentage increase was ridiculous, and who on a fixed income or minimum wage or a low wage can afford something like that?
"So we have to do something - either give everyone a huge pay increase or bring in rent controls."
She said after the hearing that the Government should research rent controls overseas to decide the best system for New Zealand.
She argued New Zealand was also out of step with European countries by allowing landlords to give tenants 90 days' notice to leave without any reason. "We would like to see a just cause for eviction if we are going to be a nation that can hold its head up internationally," she said.
Property Investors Federation executive officer Andrew King told the committee the Government should fund vouchers to pay winter power bills for about 30,000 families with children with cold-related health conditions such as rheumatic fever.
He also advocated making tenants pay full water bills because it was difficult for landlords to pay the fixed charge and have to chase tenants to pay variable charges.