The government is about to do some long overdue reform of the Residential Tenancies Act. Predictably, the more anti-social among the landlords are not happy.
Landlords say they plan to sell their properties – or focus solely on the high end of the market – if their ability to end their tenancies with 90 days’ notice is removed.
Specifically, landlords will no longer be able to terminate periodic tenancy agreements for no reason. The government is regulating when a periodic agreement may be ended and the process that needs to be followed.
Hard to see the response from some landlords as anything other than what is known on the internet as a flounce. People making a big announcement about how they’re leaving an online space as if they will be terribly missed. Everyone else usually mocks and cheers.
Landlords selling off properties isn't quite the disincentive they seem to think it is 😂 means first time buyers have a chance to get in the door AND removes poorly maintained homes from rotation. Win win!https://t.co/kkZwrJ3g7L— Dr Bex (@BexGraham) March 2, 2020
I for one AM DELIGHTED that landlords are finally being held to account for their hoarding of homes and their failure to maintain basic living standards for tenants. Landlord who ALREADY DO THIS will see no difference to their practice.— Dr Bex (@BexGraham) March 2, 2020
They honestly seem to think that they are solely responsible for housing people 😂😂😂— Dr Bex (@BexGraham) March 2, 2020
So what’s the government about to do?
Currently, tenants with periodic tenancy agreements can be given a mere 42 days notice to leave if the landlord wants to sell or move into the house. That extends to 90 days if those aren’t the reason but no reason has to be given. This has never been fair on tenants, but now that we have a permanent housing crisis it’s grossly unfair because in many places 3 months is not long enough to find other suitable accommodation.
The reformed RTA will set out clearly the legitimate reasons for termination of a tenancy agreement (and how it should be done). These are the reasons allowable,
It’s not like landlords will never be able to evict tenants. They will need to follow some clear and reasonable rules, just like other business people in civil society.
Economist Tony Alexander’s latest quarterly survey showed landlords were not impressed.
“Owners are not just saying they will raise rents to reflect various cost rises, but will actively weed out any existing bad quality tenants they might currently have before the legislation becomes effective and it becomes near impossible to remove them,” he said.
“Once in place many owners plan only selecting proven good tenants. Tenants not in work, tenants with bad credit histories, tenants with young children and, solo mothers, amongst others, will now not be considered.”
So solo mothers, people on benefits, and tenants with young kids are ‘bad quality tenants’. This is not housing for New Zealanders, it’s investment schemes that have to manage stock units (with bigotry thrown in for good measure). If you can’t understand that tenants are humans with a need for a home, then off you fuck and free up the house for someone who can figure out how to run a business that doesn’t dehumanise the people the business serves.
Almost half the investors surveyed said they would be likely or highly likely to sell their properties if the change happened.
“One of our biggest concerns is that investors find the proposals too cumbersome, they sell up, reducing the pool of rental properties and raising rental prices even more,” Norwell said.
“Even the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development’s own regulatory impact statement has said that the proposed changes ‘may increase landlords’ business risks and impact on their profit margins’.”
It’s like they live in a bubble where everything revolves around them. This isn’t so much flounce as implied blackmail, if the landlords were children threatening to throw their toys out of the cot.
Housing is a human right.
Business – including individuals and organisations who are landlords – has a responsibility to respect the human right to adequate housing. If operations have a negative impact on the right to adequate housing business has a responsibility to remedy that negative impact.
If you don’t know how to run your business or investment without being a shit to people, then by all means put your money somewhere else. There are plenty of good landlords out there who will not be negatively affected by this, sell to them.
Meanwhile, the government is taking a range of actions to lessen the impact of the housing crisis, and each individual action and regulatory change needs to be seen in that context.
As for the threat to raise rents, my hope is that once the Labour-led government gets through with the low hanging fruit of regulating tenancy agreements and mandatory rental standards, we can then move on to a conversation about rent control.
The full set of changes to the Residential Tenancies Act can be seen here and here. Summary at the Spinoff. Background on development of the Bill is here.