News

LANDLORDS DIVIDED OVER BARFOOT AND THOMPSON’S RECENT CALL TO NATIONAL PARTY NOT TO OVERTURN HHS

Landlords are divided over Barfoot & Thompson’s recent call to the National Party to hold fire on their plans to overturn the Healthy Homes standards if elected. Barfoot & Thompson has co-signed a letter with the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation, the Hutt Valley District Health Board, Community Housing Aotearoa, NZ Green Building Council, and university researchers, which urges National Party leader Judith Collins to back the standards. The move came after widespread reports that, if elected, the National Party wants to roll back the Government’s new Healthy Homes standards and tenancy law reforms. But the letter has not gone down well with some landlords, with Stop the War on Tenancies spokesperson Mike Butler describing it as naïve. Butler says the letter-writers should provide evidence that shows implementing the standards in rental properties will keep the 700,000 New Zealanders with respiratory disease out of hospital. He points out that people with respiratory disease live in owner-occupied homes as well as rental properties and there are 1.1 million of those that are not required to meet the standards. Butler believes the standards will have little real impact and will simply increase the costs involved with rental property. NZ Property Investors Federation president Andrew King takes a different stance. He says that Barfoot & Thompson’s position probably represents the view of most rental property owners.

“We want our rental properties to be warm, dry and performing well. We want our tenants to be living in good conditions. As such we support most of the requirements in the standards. “But we don’t agree that there are noticeable benefits in topping up the insulation to current standards in rental properties that are already insulated and having heat pumps in every single rental property.” He says the issues the standards are trying to address are more complex than the standards assume, with tenant income being a factor – which is why the NZPIF has always backed the idea of the Winter energy payment. That means the NZPIF agrees with the National Party that some of the standards should be revisited, but they don’t agree that all the standards should simply be removed. https://www.goodreturns.co.nz/article/976517555/healthy-homes-standards-to-back-or-to-scrap.html – 28 Sept

HOUSING POLICIES OF VARIOUS PARTIES OUTLINED

https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/homed/renting/122907853/election-2020-vanilla-housing-policies-unlikely-to-ease-auckland-rental-crowding–economist – 29 Sept

INCREASING RENTS IN GISBORNE

New Zealand Property Investors Federation executive officer Sharon Cullwick said there had definitely been a rise in the number of investors coming into the Gisborne market. “It is quite unusual because what we are finding, is our long-term investors are actually getting out of the market because of all the restrictions that are coming on with the Residential Tenancies Act and Healthy Homes and those regulations.” Mrs Cullwick put rising rents down to simple supply and demand as the number of rental properties reduced. Gisborne residential property manager Graham Faulkner said increases in both rents and sales values were “staggering”, pointing to one case in point. Mr Faulkner said the previous system, which allowed rent increases every six months was “far better” in a time of rising rents and far more helpful to tenants. http://www.gisborneherald.co.nz/local-news/20200929/its-a-jungle-out-there/ – 29 Sept

WHAT THE SPINOFF IS REPORTING

Last year it was reported that property managers were dropping landlords who refused to comply with the Healthy Homes Standards and insulate their homes. While Barfoot said reminding landlords about their responsibilities was an ongoing issue, most of them were eager to comply, and it usually came down to a lack of awareness. “I think most landlords are really good. Most only own one other house, and a lot of them are just trying to have a second income for when they retire. Most are genuinely caring people who want the tenants to have a nice house to live in because they know they’ll attract good quality tenants who will stay longer and have less hassle.” https://thespinoff.co.nz/business/30-09-2020/what-property-managers-think-of-the-cold-damp-homes-they-look-after/ – 30 Sept

WAIRARAPA HOUSING MARKET ON THE MOVE

A tight rental market and low sales stock mean Wairarapa’s property market is on the up, writes Joanna Jefferies. It’s a beautiful spot in the country and people are discovering that,” says Will Alexander, general manager, property management at Property Brokers. “I think it was undervalued before, and the penny’s finally dropped. With Transmission Gulley about to finish, that will also open up more options. I think we’re seeing some speculation in the area, with investors looking to the future and seeing that [Wairarapa] will be more accessible to Wellington.” Tenant demand for rentals was already outstripping supply and that imbalance is being intensified by owner-occupiers buying rentals that come onto the market, says Alexander. The number of bonds being lodged is flat and tenants are staying longer because rentals are so scarce: Wairarapa tenancies average 33 months, compared to the national average of 26 months, according to Property Brokers data. On August 15, there were only 18 rental listings on Trade Me across South Wairarapa, Masterton and Carterton districts. With slim pickings, landlords are in a position to choose from a selection of excellent, high-quality tenants. Rent arrears are very low, he adds, and typically tenants take good care of their property. “We’re seeing increased rents, longer tenancies, a vacancy rate at less than one per cent1% and high demand from tenants,” says Alexander. “All the markers are there to indicate a very strong market.” https://www.goodreturns.co.nz/article/976517558/wairarapa-on-the-move.html – 30 Sept

TENANCY WAS TERMINATED BY THE TENANCY TRIBUNAL WHEN TENANTS STOPPED PAYING RENT

An Invercargill couple who stopped paying rent because they believed their rental property was sub-standard have now been evicted. Tamarah Clark’s tenancy for the Appleby house was terminated at a Tenancy Tribunal hearing in Invercargill on September 21 because of rent arrears. At the hearing, Winsloe said he just wanted to have his piece heard relating to a raft of issues with the property including leaks and black mould. Tribunal adjudicator Shelley Munro noted the concerns, but said without him submitting any evidence she was unable to deal with those matters. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/122840749/invercargill-couple-stopped-paying-rent-to-protest – 30 Sept

SHORTAGE OF HOUSING STOCK DRIVES UP PRICES

The latest data from realestate.co.nz is out and it shows that, despite a recent year-on-year increase in new listings, low total stock numbers nationwide are still driving high asking prices. Realestate.co.nz spokesperson Vanessa Taylor says that nationally demand is still outstripping supply with the total number of homes available for sale in September down 17.0% on the same month in 2019.“We’re continuing to see a housing shortage in New Zealand with 10 of 19 regions hitting record total stock lows. Demand also remains high with over 1.25 million users recorded on realestate.co.nz in September 2020.” The national average asking price was up by 11.5% year on year to $764,864, although prices were pegged back from their August highs. https://www.goodreturns.co.nz/article/976517579/low-listings-boosting-prices.html – 1 October: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/residential-property-listings-record-low-auckland-asking-price-hits-more-than-1-million – 1 October

AN OPINION PIECE FROM ANDREW KING

There has been a call for the National Party to halt plans to scrap Healthy Homes changes if it is in a position to form the next Government, and some believe that rental property providers are against anything that improves rental property. This is not accurate. When in Government, the National Party introduced laws to improve rental properties, mostly by making insulation compulsory. The NZ Property Investors’ Federation agreed with this as we encourage members to insulate their rentals and 92 per cent of our members’ rentals are insulated. We also encourage members to install heat pumps in their rentals but many found their tenants did not want them or did not use them when provided. Our principles for rental property regulations are that they should provide real benefit and be cost-effective, because tenants ultimately pay the cost. Even local authorities are looking to significantly increase rental prices for their own rental properties to cover the cost of the Healthy Homes standards. https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/opinion-analysis/300121299/healthy-homes-changes-do-tenants-actually-want-heat-pumps – 1 October

PART OF LABOUR’S HOUSING POLICY IS TO REGULATE HOUSING MANAGEMENT SERVICES

Property managers will be regulated and subject to a Code of Conduct to ensure they meet professional standards if the Labour Party returns to power after the election. The newly announced plan is part of the Labour Party’s new housing policy which was launched today by Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern and housing spokesperson Megan Wood. A big focus of the policy is to keep the construction sector moving in a bid to increase housing supply while stimulating the economy and creating jobs in the wake of Covid-19. “Labour stopped the wholesale sell off of public housing, banned offshore speculation and has invested heavily in rebuilding our public and emergency housing safety net. “We firmly believe that all New Zealanders have the right to live in warm, dry, healthy homes, whether we rent or own our homes. “We will continue to ensure tenants and landlords have a fair deal by regulating property managers, following our work setting basic health standards for rental properties.” That’s why, as part of their housing plan, Labour will introduce the regulation of property management services to ensure they meet professional standards and a Code of Conduct. At the policy launch, Woods noted that multiple groups from Consumer NZ to the Property Council have called for action on lifting the performance of property management services. REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell says they are delighted that Labour would work with the industry to develop practical standards to ensure property managers comply with a code of conduct. https://www.goodreturns.co.nz/article/976517589/labour-plans-to-regulate-property-managers.html – 2 October: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/property/122966893/election-2020-labour-promise-to-regulate-property-managers-is-welcomed-by-reinz – 2 October https://www.landlords.co.nz/article/976517589/labour-plans-to-regulate-property-managers – 2 October

ANDREW KING SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT IN SPINOFF

If you read articles in the Spinoff and elsewhere you might imagine and thought that the Property Investors’ Federation are heartless landlords only thinking of themselves – let me offer you a different perspective, writes Andrew King. In recent weeks I’ve had the misfortune of seeing my name in headlines suggesting that I have “urged” landlords not to install heating in rentals. This is incorrect, but has been repeated in two Spinoff articles drawing on the original report – the first by Hayden Donnell and the second, yesterday, by Michael Andrew. I’d like to set the record straight. https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/02-10-2020/let-me-be-clear-we-are-not-urging-landlords-to-delay-installation-of-heating/ – 2 October

ELECTION 2020 – THE HOUSING POLICES IN TWO MINUTES

Read the policies of all the main parties on new homes, tax, renting and social housing in this article

https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/03-10-2020/election-2020-the-housing-policies-in-two-minutes/ – 3 October

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/427433/labour-housing-policies-propose-housing-energy-certification-replacing-rma – 2 October

RALLY FOR FAIR RENT NOW

”Renters United congratulates the Green Party, The Opportunities Party and the Labour Party for agreeing to address rental affordability within their first 100 days should they form the next government, this Saturday at the Renters United Rally for Fair Rent Now. Politicians have so far been unwilling to tackle the problem of rent prices directly. However, we are now more hopeful, with the commitment from the Labour Party, Green Party and The Opportunities Party, that we could see the next government addressing the crisis of rent affordability,” said Renters United’s Organiser, Ashok Jacob. “We are disappointed that the National Party, Act Party and New Zealand First have declined or ignored our requests to engage every step of the way. As renters go to the polls, we encourage them to consider which parties will advocate for the needs of the more than 2 million renters in Aotearoa, and urge them to use their vote to make sure the next government represents their needs,” said Jacob. The Fair Rent Now open letter calls for tens of thousands of new homes https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO2010/S00038/parties-pile-in-to-address-rental-affordability-within-the-first-100-days-of-government.htm – 3 October

EXPANSION OF HEALTHY HOMES PROGRAMME ALSO INCLUDES MORE FUNDING FOR MORE INSPECTORS TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE

Labour has just announced a plan to tackle what it’s calling ‘a national shame’. If elected, the party wants to expand the Healthy Homes programme for housing basics like heaters, curtains, and bedding. It would also boost funding for Tenancy Services to monitor compliance of Healthy Home Standards – which start coming into effect from July 2021

https://home.nzcity.co.nz/news/article.aspx?id=319847 – 4 October

https://www.rnz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=2018766805 – 4 October – – Labour to roll out more rental inspectors to ensure that landlords are meeting requirements at a cost of $16million.

LABOUR’S PLAN TO EXPAND THE HEALTHY HOME INITIATIVE AND TO INCREASE TENANCY SERVICES COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT TEAMS

Labour wants rheumatic fever to “vanish from New Zealand,” and has promised to expand the Healthy Homes initiative to help rid the country of the illness. Ardern has promised to pour more money into efforts to eliminate the illness – an extra $55 million over four years on a number of initiatives. According to researching unit Branz, 22 per cent of New Zealand rental homes have no fixed heating. That figure is 7 per cent when it comes to owner-occupied properties.

“It is unacceptable that poor-quality housing is causing lifelong heart damage, as well as swelling and pain in joints and skin, and increased risk of asthma and other respiratory illness,” Ardern said. She added that the problem is much worse for Māori and Pasifika children. “We want this disease to vanish from New Zealand.” The remaining $16m will be put towards beefing up Tenancy Services compliance and enforcement teams to ensure rental accommodation meets standards. That funding, also split up over four years, allows inspectors to target high-risk areas sand communities. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12370122 – 4 October