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National promise to “monitor the rental market” – so where do tenants send reports of rent gouging?

Written By: - Date published: 7:21 am, May 30th, 2017 - 35 comments
Categories: budget 2017, housing, national, Steven Joyce, useless - Tags: , , , ,

Even by National’s “standards” this is shameless – Govt pulled u-turn on accommodation supplement

Two years ago the government decided not to boost the accommodation supplement because of fears landlords could pocket the extra money, and rents could be pushed up.

The concerns about what were described as “landlord capture” were contained in advice from officials at the Treasury and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

What changed in two years? Why, this is election year of course. The Nats are nakedly trying to buy this election – Duncan Garner: National’s trying to buy this election – and they’re paying with your money

The spin on this misguided bribe is laughable

Joyce said last week that officials would monitor the rental market to ensure landlords weren’t trying to capitalise on the increase and would act if there were signs of it.

Questions that the media may wish to ask Mr Joyce. Where do tenants send reports of rent gouging? Exactly what action will the government take when they receive these reports?

35 comments on “National promise to “monitor the rental market” – so where do tenants send reports of rent gouging?”

  1. Keith 1

    Of all the National Partys lies of which I have lost count, this one is the most ridiculous.

    How can Joyce possibly keep an eye on rent rises and then somehow extrapolate that a rent rise is wrong? There is no law in place, rule or regulation that can stop any investor/speculator/landlord from charging what they want. They have until now been constrained by the ability of their tenant to pay more.

    What Steve did very intentionally was ensure more money (courtesy of the taxpayer) was available to investors/speculators/landlords as and when they choose to up rents because he and they know low incomes, non existent pay rises and rising interest rates are a huge threat to their property bubble paradise.

    Joyces “keeping an eye” on rent rises was an off the cuff remark of no substance to a question when he suddenly realised how obvious the accommodation supplement transfer to landlords was to that RNZ journalist.

    And that probably says more about high ranking Nats who have grown used to the tummy scratching and non questioning scripts from the Hoskings, Gowers, Garners, Youngs and Watkins of the so called political journalistic world.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      What Steve did very intentionally was ensure more money (courtesy of the taxpayer) was available to investors/speculators/landlords as and when they choose to up rents because he and they know low incomes, non existent pay rises and rising interest rates are a huge threat to their property bubble paradise.

      QFT

      It’s the National Party stepping in to prop up a failed system courtesy of the taxpayers.

  2. adam 2

    Strange election bribe this one, does not come into effect till next April. By then landlords will have already hiked up rents to absorbed any bonus paid to them by this bribe.

    So as always – nothing to see here, because you won’t be able to see it anyway.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      True, the rises in housing costs will be well hidden in the averages the get reported.

  3. ianmac 3

    English Monday Morning Report said that they would monitor for Rental rises. When Guyon asked him how and what would he do about rental rises he mumbled a bit then tried to veer off the subject. No answer eh Bill?

  4. David Mac 4

    It is illegal to charge more than market rent. Lower quartile, median and upper quartile rents being paid in the geographical regions of NZ are freely available on the MBIE site. It is illegal to raise the rent more frequently than 6 monthly.

    A Tenancy Tribunal hearing is a fairly casual affair, the adjudicator will always give people from all walks of life a very fair hearing. The tenant that can prove they are paying too much rent will have damages awarded to them. The tribunal is there for both landlords and tenants. It is the interest earned on tenants’ bonds that finances most of the operation. Unfortunately 95% of hearings are due to landlords starting proceedings.

    It only costs $20.44 to lodge papers for a hearing. If the adjudicator finds in the tenant’s favour these costs will be added to the landlord’s bill.

    As of July last year there was new legislation added to the Residential Tenancy Act. It is now illegal for a landlord to take retaliatory action. eg: I take my landlord to the tribunal because he is charging too much and 2 weeks later I receive a ‘Please Vacate’ letter. This is illegal, back to the tribunal we go and the exemplary damages start into the 1000’s then.

    I fear many of the problems with rental housing is that there are not enough tenants standing up and declaring “I’m as mad as hell and I’m going to do something about it.” Because there are paths to take beyond moaning on a blog. A real way of fighting back. It’s news that would rip through the gouging landlord grapevine like a bush-fire.

    Adjudicators love hearings brought about by tenants, there are so few of them. Their wages are paid by tenants’ bonds. It would be easy to surmise that if it’s a line-ball call, it falls the way of the tenant.

    • weka 4.1

      “It is illegal to charge more than market rent. Lower quartile, median and upper quartile rents being paid in the geographical regions of NZ are freely available on the MBIE site.”

      Interesting. If the landlords are upping rents between tenants who would know what the hike is? And if a prospective tenant thought the rent was too high, what could they do about it? Thus you have rents rising across the area quite easily especially in places that have lots of short term rentals.

      • David Mac 4.1.1

        The adjudicator would use the data available to all of us in determining what a fair rent price for a particular property is.

        This is the example page on the MBIE info, it refers to Avondale. It is the information he/she would refer to if ruling over a hearing for a tenant from Avondale.

        https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/rent-bond-and-bills/market-rent/

        There would of course be an opportunity for the landlord to justify their position with proof that the property is not an average 3 bedroom Avondale home. eg: 2 bathrooms and garaging for 5 vehicles. But if it’s a regular 3 beddy in Avondale and the ask is $100 over the odds, the landlord will probably lose.

        • weka 4.1.1.1

          Are you saying that prospective tenants can take a case to the Tenancy Tribunal?

          • David Mac 4.1.1.1.1

            No, you need to have an agreement with the party you’re lodging papers against.

            I can’t save places I feel are pricey on Trademe to my watchlist and send them a bulk mail-out enquiry. “I’m going to sue your sorry arse for 1000’s”

            • David Mac 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Welll…I suppose I could, it would get noticed. It wouldn’t get any further than the threat, it’s toothless. Leave myself open for legal action, little upside, lots of downside.

            • weka 4.1.1.1.1.2

              I think that’s the problem. Landlords can and do work around the law by raising rents between tenants. As far as I can see there is nothing to stop them. Once the new tenant lodges a bond, the higher rent is registered in that monitoring process, and thus the average rents for the area go up.

              • David Mac

                Yes, little can be done about the inflationary spiral, almost everything we buy is subjected to that but for those landlords that exploit the housing shortage by jacking up their asks, there is a way to keep them in check.

                They’re the guys we need to hammer. Their greedy trailblazing into new heights of pricing too quickly becomes mainstream.

                • weka

                  I can see how the monitoring and legislation might slow greedy landlords, but as you say, it requires tenants to step up (and many won’t, for all sorts of reasons). Plus there are work arounds for the landlords.

                  Rent freeze is probably the only way to get control of the thing. Some people are going to get burned from that, but give them notice and better that we stop burning poor people.

                  • David Mac

                    Yes it will require tenants to stand up. I’ve found that when I don’t, people walk over me.

                    Waiting for a government to introduce rent freezes is placing my destiny in the hands of a government. A reactive response. I fear I’d die waiting for a government to make everything ok in my life.

                    The pro-active response is to complete the online form and invest the fee. The worst than can happen is that I lose 2 hours of my life and $20.44.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      You’re assuming that everyone knows the rules and that everyone has the wherewithal to hire a lawyer.

      • Anno1701 4.2.1

        they are freely available on line, and no lawyer required for a tribunal

        we have won a tribunal case on this exact grounds, they tried to kick us out, $3500 fine for retaliatory behavior

        f#*ked up the ass by their own greed, Very satisfying to watch…

        • Siobhan 4.2.1.1

          As a lifetime renter, in the lower end of the market, and as someone who has, so far, had over 30 different landlords, I can say that approaching the tenancy tribunal is the last thing on my mind as I scramble from one rental to the next.
          On a number of occasions we have realised, in retrospect, that we absolutely should have our landlords at the very least censured for, in some cases, illegal behaviour.
          But really, you get tired of the constant battles.
          Work, family, yet another house that is in one way or another unsuitable.
          People just want a roof over their heads, not constant battles just for the privilege of a lifetime paying for other peoples retirement nest eggs.

          • David Mac 4.2.1.1.1

            Your call Siobhan but while there is an easily accessed inexpensive system in place for you to get recourse and you choose not to…don’t gripe, get even.

        • David Mac 4.2.1.2

          Great result Anno. Scary prospect before the hearing but I’m sure you walked out thinking ‘Wow, that was easy.’

      • David Mac 4.2.2

        As Anno said, lawyers are not allowed.

        Unless someone wants to call a witness or needs a support person there are 4 people in the room. Landlord, tenant, adjudicator and a record keeper that says nothing after taking oaths.

    • Rae 4.3

      True that, but in places where housing is tight, houses are rented under virtual auction situations, so if people have a bit more money in their pockets they will bid higher than they could have when they didn’t and that will have the effect of raising rents all by itself. Chuck the new app Rent Berry into it and you have rents rising with no action needing to be taken by a landlord.

      • David Mac 4.3.1

        It is illegal to charge above market rent. Market rent can be established via freely accessed govt information. The same info an adjudicator would be using to establish a fair market rent for a suburb or region.

        There are always 1000 reasons why something can’t be done, when I’m too concerned about the hurdles, nothing happens.

        The problem for landlords when they chase the very top dollar for their property is that their tenants have no sooner moved in and they’re looking at the Trademe ‘For Rent’ listings. The property empty for a week or 2 between regularly renewing tenancies fast erodes any cream they put on top of their asking price. Rent Berry will compound this situation.

  5. web developer 5

    Be sure that your next six-monthly rent review after 1 April 18 will include this accommodation supplement payment. It’s illegal to charge more than *roughly* market rent and, if your area is going up by *roughly* the same amount, you can be sure it won’t get past the tribunal.

    This idea of ‘keeping an eye’ on it is absolute bs.

  6. Sabine 6

    is bill gonna put Nick Smith in charge of rent monitoring?

  7. spikeyboy 7

    This is classic kicking the can down the road because there is no plan or at least no plan to disturb the status quo.
    “…big property companies’ main asset is land, and if an inadequate supply of houses is being built, the value of the land goes up, creating a perverse, but highly effective, incentive not to build more housing. As a demonstration of the law of supply and demand, it could not be more perfect: supply is artificially restricted, so demand surges. In plain English, there aren’t enough houses being built, so houses are too expensive for most people. This fact is well understood, but the liberal ideology of market solutions makes it impossible to adopt an alternative. A system which allows total primacy to economics finds it impossible to address this basic economic fact. ”
    See
    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n11/john-lanchester/between-victoria-and-vauxhall
    For a great analysis of a similar London problem

    • David Mac 7.1

      You’re right spikey, all roads lead to ‘Build more houses.’

      If the roles were reversed the blue jumpered seagulls would be ripping a Labour govt to shreads over this housing fiasco.

      Nine years and 11 community houses in the Far North, our most impoverished region. It’s the most unfunny joke in NZ.

      If the left can convince NZers they can fix it, they’ll win.

    • NZJester 7.2

      The big problem with a free market is the fact those at the top can easily manipulate it to strip out a higher profit. An open and fair free market would work just as the neo-liberals claim it would. But with too many greedy people involved in the free market, it is far from fair and never will be causing the free market model to fail again and again. All the neo-liberal ideas all look good on paper, but every one of them always hits the one thing their model has no idea how to adjust for and that is human greed. Trickle down economics fails because of that as well. Those in the higher tax brackets given tax breaks to allow them to invest in growth have no incentive to do so as the returns from doing so tend to be less than just holding onto the money and locking it away in high-interest bank accounts taking the money out of circulation from the economy. The result of those higher income tax breaks actually stifle an economy and send it into recession due to all the money that slowly gets removed from circulation.
      Building more houses would be the ideal solution to supply and demand but those that have the money to do it know it is more profitable to keep the supply limited to extract higher returns from what they already have.

  8. saveNZ 8

    Here’s his email, you can post Joyce’s responses on Open Mike, so we can all get a laugh.

    s.joyce@ministers.govt.nz

  9. NZJester 9

    If they do have a reporting system set up by National the landlords will be involved and well informed so that they can fix the problem by simply chucking them out. That would be Nationals way of fixing it. In a market like Auckland with the lack of accommodation they know then everyone would be too scared to complain and thus they can claim because no one is complaining, there is no problem.

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