Urgency used to hide unworkable tenancy law changes

Jacinda Ardern’s “kind” government rather unkindly wants to push through under urgency this week amendments to residential rental tenancy law that are both unworkable and vicious, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

If the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill is passed as is:

  1. Section 55A would allow two weeks of unpaid rent every 90 days. This breaches every tenancy agreement which requires rent to be paid as agreed.
  2. Section 36 would permit two separate instances of anti-social behaviour every 90 days. This also breaches every tenancy agreement which forbids anti-social behaviour.
  3. Section 32, which would end contractual terminations by owners, means that the only ways for owners to end tenancies are to renovate, move into, or sell the property.
  4. When considering termination for a serious breach, Tenancy Tribunal adjudicators would be legally obliged to put the personal circumstances of a tenant above the rights of the owner and neighbours, and above fairness and acceptable behaviour.
  5. Schedule 2 would impose massive fines that are far from fair and reasonable. Seventy three of the 87 proposed penalties target owners

The current Government appears to believe that it can fix housing problems by tinkering with the law. The Government appears not to understand that high demand and the diminishing availability of rental property is the problem.

Bear in mind, the current government failed to produce the 30,000 affordable houses in three years that it promised at the last election.

Winston Peters should show that there is at least one adult in this rickety coalition government and help the National Party and Act vote against these unworkable and vicious amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act.

Stop the War on Tenancies is a group that since October 2018 has been highlighting the failure by the Government to create sound policy and law for residential rental property. Much policy has only increased rents and disadvantaged both tenants and owners.

The bill may be read at http://legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2020/0218/latest/LMS294929.html



Mike Butler

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Will Level 1 mean Level 1 for residential landlords?

Does a move to Covid-19 Level 1, that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Cabinet are considering tomorrow (Monday, June 8), mean back-to-normal for 290,000 rental property owners and managers, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

The Covid-19 Response (Urgent Management) Act, that went through Parliament and was given Royal Assent in a single day, being May 25, 2020, intended to “put in place the necessary arrangements in order to implement COVID-19 Alert Level 4”.

Schedule 5 of this Act spells out the Draconian measures that froze or changed rental property processes to do with unpaid rent and tenancy terminations for three months. These include measures that mean:

  1. Tenants can stop paying rent for 60 days before any consequences. This is up from 21 days.
  2. Owners face a fine of $6500 if they give notice or apply to terminate a tenancy.
  3. Tenants may stay in a property despite having given notice and without regard to the rights of a new tenant who has signed an agreement to rent the property.

There is an option to extend the freeze for a further three months, which goes to after the election.

We are now in Level 2 and will soon be in Level 1. If the rental property provisions of the Act were set up for Level 4, and since we are no longer under those restrictions, surely the rental property provisions of the Act are already redundant, Mr Butler said.

These harsh, anti-landlord measures appear to have nothing to do with Covid-19 and everything to do with the current Government implementing its amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act without having to get them through Parliament, he said.

This affront to democracy rides roughshod over the rights of New Zealand’s rental property owners, many of whom are leaving the sector, he said.

This exodus is happening at a time when the waiting list for a State house has soared to 16,309 (more than double that of 2017), and when the Government failed to deliver on its promise to build 30,000 affordable homes in three years.

Below are news stories on unintended consequences of the Covid-19 Response (Urgent Management) Act and how some coped with the authoritarian crackdown on residential rental property.

No data is available on how owners had to sneak around dealing with tenancy issues during the Level 4 lockdown at a time that housing was deemed non-essential and rental property owners were locked down and unable to perform basic functions legally.

Neither is there any data on the extent of additional rent arrears incurred during the Government’s Covid-19 panic, or how owners tried to defuse anti-social behaviour knowing that authorities would only deal with an extreme consequence, such as the boarding house murder (See below).

Tomorrow, Cabinet should tell New Zealand’s 290,000 rental property owners and managers that the rules that apply to rental property will be those of the Residential Tenancies Act without the now redundant Schedule 5 of the Covid-19 Response (Urgent Management) Act, Mr Butler said.

If New Zealand is safe enough to return to Level 1, it goes without saying that should be no extension of the freeze on rental property processes for a further three months to September 25, which is after the election, he said.

No capital gains tax a relief for owners and tenants

Rental property owners and tenants will be relieved that pressure from hundreds of thousands of voters and taxpayers forced the ideologically-driven Prime Minister to drop the ideologically-driven capital gains tax, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern virtually told the media she wanted Michael Cullen’s capital gains tax but the myriads of opponents to the tax wouldn’t let her have it, Mr Butler said.

The arguments used to promote the tax, that a capital gains tax would help reduce inequality and that all New Zealanders would “pay their fair share”, assumed that those to be hit by such a tax were not paying their share, he said.

In fact, those who would be hit hardest are probably paying more than their share, he said.

The only people who appeared to support the proposed tax were those who thought they wouldn’t be caught by it, Mr Butler said, as was shown by responses of 90 percent who told one poll that they objected to having to pay a capital gains tax on their KiwiSaver investment.

However, a capital gains tax is just one silly idea from the current Government that those in the rental property sector won’t have to deal with, he said.

We still have to deal with the costly rental property standards that appear to have little to do with the claimed hospitalisation of children, possible changes to tenancy law that make it impossible to move on disruptive tenants, and the ring-fencing of rental property losses that may cause up to 116,000 rental property owners leave the sector, Mr Butler said.

Stop the War on Tenancies is a group that since last October has been highlighting the evidence that successive governments have ignored while creating rental property policy.