Auckland meeting on tenancy law change, standards

Auckland meeting on tenancy law change, standards

A panel discussion on proposed changes to tenancy law and extra standards for rental property will take place in Auckland on Sunday, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

The meeting, at the Balmoral Community Hall, 258 Balmoral Rd, which will start at 2.30pm on Sunday, December 9, will take the form of a panel discussion.

Panelists include National Party Hunua MP Andrew Bayly, ACT Party candidate Stephen Berry, Tenant Protection representative Angela Maynard, Stop the War on Tenancies founder Mike Butler, property investor and lawyer Naveen Goel, and real estate consultant Paul Davie as moderator.

Big changes are proposed for the Residential Tenancies Act and these will reduce the control that owners will have over their property and make it more difficult for renters to find a home, Mr Butler said.

Extra standards required for insulation, heating, ventilation, draught-proofing, and water-tightness, that will cost around $7000 per property, are proceeding against official advice and have nothing to do with health, he said.

The meeting is important for everyone involved in tenancies and people from across the political spectrum have been invited, Mr Butler said.

The group Stop the War on Tenancies aims to empower both owners and tenants in the face of ongoing Government ineptitude with housing.

Contact

Mike Butler                 (027) 2777 295

Extra rental standards to cost $7000 per house

Extra rental standards to cost $7000 per house

Papers obtained last week under the Official Information Act show that up to $7000 of extra spending may be required for each of the 588,700 rental properties in New Zealand and that this will have little benefit, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

Extra rental property standards on insulation, heating, ventilation, moisture protection, draught-proofing and drainage, under the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act, which were sent out for public consultation last month, are being finalised now.

Advice to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Phil Twyford, showed benefits only from insulation and draught-proofing, with heating, extractor fans, and moisture-proofing mainly incurring costs without benefits:

  • Insulation of up to 70,000 properties to 2001 standard of R1.9 in most of the North Island expected a benefit of $64 a year per property.
  • Heat pumps in living rooms achieving a temperature of 18C in 180,000 properties showed a cost of $33 a year. No benefit was cited.
  • Extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms incurred a cost of $48 per property. No benefit was shown.
  • A cost of $48 per property was cited for moisture-proofing and drainage work in 192,000 properties. No benefit was cited.
  • Draught-proofing tape around windows and doors was recommended with a claimed benefit of $49 per property if 30 percent of rental stock required it.

The total cost of around $7000 comprises insulation $2452 (an insulation top-up costs roughly the same as first-time insulation), a heat pump $3000, two extractor fans $1000, a ground moisture barrier $700, and draught-proofing (costs unclear).

A compliance deadline of sometime between July 1, 2019, and 2024 was recommended, as were exemplary damages of $4000 for non-compliance.

It will be over to rental property owners either to recoup the $7000 by adding around $14 a week to rent for 10 years, or pay for it without recouping it.

The Minister was warned that these costs would be added to rent for those owners who chose not to sell up. Grants to cover costs were recommended, according to the OIA release.

The Minister was advised that the biggest gain achieving 80 percent heat-loss reduction was insulating to the 1978 standard, which was R1.9. Anything over that had little extra gain.

It appears from the papers that the total number of uninsulated rental properties in New Zealand is unknown.

Looking past all the rhetoric in this debate, it appears that all that actually needs to be done, if reducing heat loss in winter is a worthy aim, is to find out what properties are uninsulated and take steps to remedy this, Mr Butler said.

An offer from the Government of free insulation subject to a visit by a Government official to confirm that the property is uninsulated could achieve that, Mr Butler said.

Advice to the Minister is that cold is an issue for the very young and the very old. Any health issues therefore could be addressed by a targeted approach ensuring that the vulnerable have and can afford adequate heating, he said.

A fixed heat pump is not the only way to lift the temperature to 18C or 20C. There is a range of options including wood-burners, flued gas heaters, and efficient portable electric heaters that we have been using for decades without difficulty, Mr Butler said.

If this extra $7000 of spending is imposed, much of which has been shown to have a cost without a benefit, in the current environment of strong demand for rental property, owners can charge extra so they most probably will, and this will go on top of current rent increases, Mr Butler said.

This is part of the Government’s policy of “making life better for renters” but the Minister may actually be making life more expensive for renters, he said.

The group Stop the War on Tenancies aims to empower both owners and tenants in the face of ongoing Government ineptitude with housing.

Tenancy fee shows failure of letting-fee ban

Tenancy fee shows failure of letting-fee ban

The speedy appearance of tenancy fees shows that the attempt to legislate letting fees out of existence has failed, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

A law change was passed at the start of this month to ban letting fees, which are usually equal to a week’s rent, which on average is $421, plus GST. The ban comes into effect on December 12.

As part of the Government’s policy of “making life better for renters”, Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford argued that there was no economic rationale for the fee and that a ban would save tenants $47-million a year.

But property managers do need to be paid for advertising, conducting viewings, and checking out prospective tenants.

So, property management firm Quinovic last week wrote to property owners to say that because the removal of letting fees would have a “considerable adverse impact” on their business, a tenancy fee of $550 plus GST would be charged to owners.

It will be over to rental property owners either to recoup the fee by adding around $10 a week to rent, or pay for it without recouping it.

In the current environment of strong demand for rental property, owners can charge extra so they most probably will.

The Minister was advised that a ban on letting fees would have a moderate impact on property managers, according to a response to questions under the Official Information Act.

The Minister didn’t listen and the only surprise is the speed with which property managers have responded, Mr Butler said.

A tenancy fee charged to owners and recouped from tenants would not make life better for renters as the Minister intended, and may possibly make it worse, Mr Butler said.

The group Stop the War on Tenancies aims to empower both owners and tenants in the face of ongoing Government ineptitude with housing.

See Tenancy fees for landlords replace banned letting fees https://i.stuff.co.nz/business/108595008/tenancy-fees-for-landlords-replace-banned-letting-fees

Heavy opposition to tenancy proposals

Heavy opposition to tenancy proposals

A 92-response snapshot survey circulated among property groups shows heavy opposition to proposed reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

Tenancy law proposals would ban 90-day no-cause terminations, ban fixed-term tenancies, give tenants the right to modify a property, allow tenants to keep pets as of right, and enable Government officials to enter boarding houses at any time.

After spending eight hours completing the official submission document, an Auckland rental property owner created an online form which she circulated from October 5 to October 21 to property groups on Facebook.

She said that she strongly believes in fairness and that the proposed changes were biased against property owners, most of whom are honest, hard-working people who are simply investing so that they don’t have to rely on the state in the future.

Renters United were already circulating a simplified form, were more frequently reported in the media than owners, and already had the Government on their side.

The biggest response to the 92-response survey was to do with requiring purchasers to take on the tenant of any rental during the sale and purchase of a property.

A whopping 98 percent thought that if a property is being sold, the new owner should be able to request vacant possession if they want to live in the property, have family members live in it, do major renovations to it, or turn it into commercial premises as is currently the case.

The proposed removal of 90-day notice no-cause terminations brought 94 percent opposition, with many saying owners never remove a tenant without a cause.

This misguided proposal is intended to give tenants additional security but would have the effect to sheltering badly-behaving tenants from any consequences.

A total 92 percent thought an owner should have the right to refuse pets on their property without giving a reason.

A group of 78 percent also opposed a ban on fixed-term tenancies, citing little evidence of problems with such tenancies.

A substantial group of 76 percent opposed giving tenants the right to make modifications, although 80 percent were OK with growing plants or vegies in the garden and 66 percent were OK with hooks for pictures.

No responses were sought on issues related to boarding houses.

The questionnaire encouraged respondents to “share their stories” which gathered 79 brief illustrative accounts on the issue of preventing owners from ending tenancies contractually, and almost the same number of stories for each of the other issues.

For instance, one respondent said:

When Mongrel members took over a two-bedroom flat and we had patched members there all the time and a savage dog all I could do was give the three-month no-reason termination

A total of 4761 submissions were received for the Residential Tenancies Act consultation and 1769 were received for the extra standards for rental property, according to a response received under the Official Information Act.

The group Stop the War on Tenancies aims to empower both owners and tenants in the face of ongoing Government ineptitude with housing.

Read what owners say on the issues at http://tenancieswar.nz/tenancyreform/submissions/  Please download the RTA Simplified Submission Full Report 21-10-18.

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