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

Three-strikes tenancy proposal no help

Three-strikes tenancy proposal no help

A three-strikes proposal to end tenancies offered by the New Zealand Property Investors’ Federation is of little use to either owners or tenants, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

Federation executive director Andrew King, last week said that faced with the Government axing the 90-day no-cause tenancy terminations, owners should be allowed to invoke a three strikes policy against renters by giving two initial warnings, then a 90-day notice period.

Mr King cited a survey of 529 owners that showed only 36 per cent had used the 90-day no-cause termination. He said that having their home sold is the main cause of tenants feeling insecure, not 90-day without-cause notices.

“Three strikes would only delay the inevitable end of the tenancy and send a message to miscreants that they could create turmoil twice without consequence before the owner could do anything effective”, Mr Butler said.

Those not involved with renting would have no idea of the stress of having to deal with a tenant who has gone rogue. And the Government wants to remove from owners the right to end a tenancy, he said.

Eighty percent of rental property owners have just one rental property. This means that while a tenant has gone rogue such an owner’s total investment has become a liability, Mr Butler said.

Further Government-caused loss of control over a property that already consumes time and money to manage means that many owners are deciding to sell, which is putting pressure on tenants right now, he said.

Rogue tenants are relatively rare, with 95 percent of tenants paying the rent on time and looking after the property as their home, Mr Butler said.

The New Zealand Property Investors’ Federation does not necessarily represent the owners of 588,700 rental properties in New Zealand, he said.

“If the sale of rental properties is the main cause of tenant insecurity, Housing Minister Phil Twyford should think long and hard before inflicting any more turmoil on the sector, 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: Landlords want three-strikes rule to evict tenants at https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12148491

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