Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 8. 19th April 1973

Smash Unjust Laws and Landlords

Smash Unjust Laws and Landlords

Photo of Madhav Rama

This is Madhav Rama
who is reputed to be a millionaire.
He has made all his money by being a landlord,
yet he has steadfastly refused
even to negotiate rents with his tenants.
Last year they went on strike
to try and get Rama to negotiate fair rents.
He has refused, but his tenants have kept on struggling.
Last week his hired bailiffs seized property
from almost all his tenants, and he began to evict them.

This man is widely considered a rack
renter and an exploiter of those who do not
know the law. There should be no place for this
type of landlord in our society.

The Rama rent strike concerns all tenants, not just the families under siege in the Hutt Valley. If Rama wins, property vultures throughout New Zealand will know they can exploit people with absolute impunity.

The problem is not just that Rama is a bad landlord, but that the law allows him and other landlords to exploit people's need for housing. The rent strike has shown just how little redress tenants have under the law. Under the 1908 Distress and Replevin Act, for example, a landlord can send privately hired bailiffs into people's homes and seize their possessions in lieu of rent. The basic demand of the tenants and the Tenants Protection Association is that all unjust property laws be repealed immediately.

For all its rhetoric during the election campaign about protecting the "little man" and guaranteeing every one the right to good housing, the Labour Government's only achievement has been to increase the number of Cabinet Ministers responsible for housing.

Mr Kirk and his colleagues talked a lot about gangs and bikies during the campaign. They promised that such trouble makers would be speedily suppressed. But the Labour Party never connected its rhetoric about bikies with its rhetoric about bad housing. For it is the lack of decent housing, and the inadequacy of our middle class education system, which forces people into boring, soul destroying jobs, that produce bikies, gangs and a host of pressing social problems which the Labour Party has been unable to make political capital out of. It is not enough for the Minister of Maori Affairs to hold meetings with Rama's lawyers, and to try to buy tenants off with state houses. What is needed is the repeal of the laws that allow landlords to charge unfair rents and to exploit tenants.

One of the most encouraging features of the strike has been the amount of support the Rama tenants and the TPA have received. Students have helped protect the flats from further invasion by Rama's hired thugs, and have kept the property repossessed on Sunday under guard in the Union Building. The TPAs in Auckland and Christchurch have pledged their support, as have a number of trade unions.

The Rama rent strike has a clear message for the Government and landlords that tenants are not going to be trodden on any more. If the Government fails to take action it can expect rent strikes up and down the country.

If the Labour Party doesn't wake up, stop blathering about law and order and start paying attention to the causes of social problems, the working people of New Zealand will take direct action against the Government, as well as against landlords and the rest of the boss class.

Peter Franks & Roger Steele

page break
Photo police and protest banner

Above: Police intervene to end protest by angry tenants. Below and Right: Tenants and friends discuss plans to force the Government to intervene in the strike.

Photo from a sit in

Photo from a sit in