Media release October 3, 2018

Why don’t trashed tenancies lead to jail time?

A series of high-profile cases of trashed rental properties raises the question of why the perpetrators manage to avoid jail time for wilful damage, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

The Crimes Act is clear that a person who intentionally or recklessly destroys or damages any property is liable to be jailed for up to seven years.

“The Minister of Police and Police Commissioner should make a statement on why those who trash rental property are exempt from wilful damage charges,” Mr Butler said.

“Any government that was serious about applying the law in an even-handed manner would regard damage to rental property as offence under the Crimes Act warranting jail for up to seven years”, Mr Butler said

“There would be little difficulty in proving the case because the damage is visible for everyone to see and the person responsible has his or her name on the tenancy agreement”, Mr Butler said.

“In my experience, police have never done anything about complaints I have made about damage to rental property, and instead have said it was a matter for the Tenancy Tribunal,” Mr Butler said.

“And the Tenancy Tribunal questions the legitimacy of proof of the photographic evidence and starts to quibble as to whether the owner has insurance, whether damage is a single event or multiple events, and whether it is accidental or deliberate,” he said.

“If the persons named on any tenancy agreement faced charges and jail time after damage to property, we would have fewer instances of damage to rental property”, 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: Landlord left with $42,000 repair bill from tenant says law doesn’t protect investors

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12134894

Media release October 2, 2018

Govt should heed rental property owners selling up

A headline today saying “Bay of Plenty landlords pull out of property market over new tenant rights” is evidence of the likely impact of new requirements in tenancy law and standards, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

Proposed changes to tenancy law would:

  • take away the owner’s contractual right to end a tenancy,
  • ban fixed-term tenancies,
  • allow tenants to modify a property,
  • allow tenants to keep pets, and
  • enable Government officials to enter boarding houses at any time irrespective of the right to privacy of the occupants.

Additional standards proposal for all 588,700 rental properties in New Zealand include:

  • installing heat pumps in every living room and panel heaters in all bedrooms,
  • re-doing insulation to higher, unjustified standards,
  • installing extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms,
  • placing a polythene sheet under floors, and
  • placing draught-stopping tape around windows and doo

Gary Prentice from Rentals BOP said the agency had lost more than 20 properties in the past 12 months as clients sold their properties.

His experience follows that of an Auckland landlord facing a $42,000 bill to repair a damaged rental property – who has questioned whether it’s worth being a property investor under new anti-owner requirements.

Tauranga Rentals owner Dan Lusby said he had advised owners that his company could not manage properties if they failed to meet insulation standards which would kick in on July 1

These standards include the requirement to spend thousands of dollars to install underfloor insulation that only stops 10 percent of heat loss during winter, which is of huge cost to the owner and hardly any benefit to anyone, Mr Butler said.

In a bizarre twist, the Government is setting tenants against property investors, by allowing the Tenancy Tribunal to award damages against property investors of up to $4000 for insulation standards failures.

And that $4000 goes to the tenant who’s dobbed in the property investor!

Mr Butler said that was akin to traffic officers pocketing the money from instant fines for speeding tickets and was an alarming glimpse of the current Government’s invasive schemes.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford says there is a housing crisis and his changes would fix it but the evidence shows his changes will reduce the availability of private rental property and put even greater pressure on Housing New Zealand, Mr Butler said.

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

See Bay of Plenty landlords pull out of property market over new tenant rights at here.

Media release September 24, 2018

Rental property questions the Govt refuses to ask

The Government fails to address some key questions while proposing sweeping changes to tenancy law and rental property standards, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

  1. Why are so many people reluctant to turn on electric heaters?
  2. How will owners evict lawless tenants who intimidate witnesses when witness statements are required to verify lawlessness?

Proposed changes to tenancy law would prevent owners from ending tenancies, ban fixed-term tenancies, allow tenants to modify a property, allow tenants to keep pets, and enable Government officials to enter boarding houses at any time.

Additional standards for rental properties would require a heat pump in every room, additional insulation beyond the present requirement, extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens, a polythene sheet on the ground under every house, and draught-stop tape around windows and doors.

If these requirements were necessary for public health, why are they limited to the occupants of 588,700 rental properties and not extended to New Zealand’s 1.1-million owner-occupied homes, Mr Butler said.

“The assumption that tenants are in peril if the temperature is less than 18C is absurd,” Mr Butler said.

“This is because even if a heat pump is installed in every room who is going to check to see that it is running, and running at the correct temperature,” he said.

Despite recent heated denials, power bills from Contact Energy in Hawke’s Bay showed that the price of electricity has nearly doubled from 12.95 cents per kilowatt/hour (before GST) in 2004 to 22.9 cents per kilowatt/hour in 2018, plus a daily charge of $2.04.

We noticed how the submission questions on both the tenancy law proposals and new standards were biased to exclude any support for the status quo, Mr Butler said.

Therefore, we have sent out to owners and renters throughout New Zealand amended questions that allow all comments – so that the Government can get some honest feedback, he said.

Stop the War on Tenancies is a coalition formed to empower both owners and tenants in the face of ongoing Government ineptitude with housing.

Our website may be viewed at www.tenancieswar.nz

Owners and tenants are in a tenancy together and any law change or regulation that disadvantages one will disadvantage the other, Mr Butler said.