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“The Green Party is committed to reforming renting so that every house is a home”

Written By: - Date published: 6:47 am, September 19th, 2017 - 29 comments
Categories: election 2017, greens, housing, housing insulation, tenants' rights - Tags:

James Shaw said at the policy launch that over half of New Zealanders rent and deserve the same standard of housing as owners. So the Greens have a bold addition to their housing policies.

From the press release,

Greens announce plan to make every house a home

James Shaw MP on Sunday, September 17, 2017 – 14:32

The Green Party today announced a progressive plan to protect the rights of people who rent and ensure that every house in New Zealand is warm, dry and healthy.

The Green Party will:

  • Ensure every house is warm, dry, and healthy with a mandatory rental warrant of fitness and by restoring Warm Up NZ insulation subsidies.
  • Professionalise renting by requiring landlord registration and reciprocal maintenance bonds from landlords.
  • Promote stable, secure tenancies through three year standard tenancies, rights of renewal and end no-cause evictions.
  • Ensure fairer rents by ending letting fees and limiting rent increases to once a year based on a mutually agreed formula.
  • Reform the Tenancy Tribunal from an adversarial to a solutions focussed model.
  • Help landlords and tenants with free assistance, information, and advice through FlatMates – a national coordination office for tenancy issues.

“Home insulation is a classic Green win-win-win: good for people, good for the environment, and good for the economy,” said Green Party leader James Shaw.

“Cold, damp houses in New Zealand contribute to more deaths every year than the road toll.

“The Green Party has a proven record working with Labour and National to get homes insulated, and in government we will finish the job we started.

“The revamped Warm Up NZ scheme will make up to $2,500 available per house to pay for better insulation, clean heating devices and other measures that will support a healthier home such as draught stops and better curtains.

“A Warrant of Fitness for rental homes and a requirement on landlords to set aside money for reasonable maintenance will put an end to cold, damp, mouldy rentals.

“Over half of the population is now renting and they deserve the same standards as people who own a home.

“People who rent should have security so they can put down roots and benefit from being able to participate in their community.

“Bringing in three year standard tenancies, guaranteeing rights of renewal, and ending no-cause evictions will make tenants feel more at ease where they are.

“Bringing balance to the rental market will help both landlords and tenants.

“The evidence from overseas is that landlord licensing has helped create better rental markets, led to a reduction of anti-social behaviour, and improved rental standards.

“FlatMates – a new tenancy coordination office will provide advice, assistance and information to both landlords and tenants so that everyone knows their rights and responsibilities.

“The Green Party is committed to reforming renting so that every house is a home,” said Mr Shaw.

Policy launch speech:

29 comments on ““The Green Party is committed to reforming renting so that every house is a home” ”

  1. Carolyn_nth 1

    Excellent.

    I watched Bryan Bruce’s documentary on housing yesterday (had recorded it)

    Stuff review of the doco.

    The solutions the documentary suggested where focused on removing the speculative element from housing and making renting an affordable long term solution.

    On professionalisation of renting – the doco looked to countries like Germany. Basically, it doesn’t mean handing the rental sector to profiteering corporates. The professional bodies can be government supported, and/or not-for-profits.

    I like the GP idea of 3 year rent contracts. Currently I tend to go for the 1 year contract each year because it gives me a year of certainty. (rather than a contract open to the required notice periods.

    I like the GP idea of ending no-cause evictions, ending of letting fees for renters, and the implementation of FlatMates,

  2. roy cartland 2

    Great!

    I rent out part of my house to offset my horrendous mortgage. There was never any house WOF, but I made sure the proposed measures were met or exceeded. Anything less is grossly immoral.

    Now Wellington has introduced a voluntary WOF, which is absurd. It just enables landlords to charge more for ‘certification’ whereas every home should meet the standards.

    A WOF should be compulsory, standard, unthinkable-not-to-do.

  3. Janet 3

    As a landlord I applaud this policy

    • The Rock 3.1

      Agreed, I’ll be talking with my account to see how much I should increase the rent to cover the costs

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1

        😆

        As every good little right winger pretends to understand: markets set prices, not vendors.

        • The Rock 3.1.1.1

          Well taking advice from professionals and not from a message board has done all right for me thus far

          • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1.1.1

            You need a professional to tell you that overpriced goods are harder to sell? OK then.

            • The Rock 3.1.1.1.1.1

              The market will decide of course…but it also helps if you have a property in a desirable location 🙂

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Remind me what happens when supply increases.

                • The Rock

                  Trust me when I say a property in the right school zone is a helluva lot more desirable than a property in say Aranui

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Yes. Remind me what happens when supply increases in the right* school zone.

                    *conditions apply.

              • Siobhan

                The Market decides?? Its not the market though is it…its how much the Government is willing to subsidise your uneconomic overvalued business model with Accommodation allowances and rent subsidies and family tax credits and insulation subsidies.
                Take those away and watch the landlords jump ship in droves…then maybe first home buyers (current renters) could return to housing auctions.

          • tracey 3.1.1.1.2

            You are going to pay to talk to your account before you find out what it will actually cost?

      • North 3.1.2

        Wow…….Feisty The Rock what a cock ! And of course the other sus’ element is that said Rock is committed to skiting like a schoolboy about his undertaking…….

  4. Richard Christie 4

    How will they “end(ing) letting fees” ?
    If an agency provides a service in advertising and vetting tenants the agency must surely be paid. If the Greens mean that they’ll shift the burden from the tenant to the landlord then they should say so clearly.

    • Muttonbird 4.1

      That’s as it should be. Currently the tenant pays for themselves and all the other applicants to be vetted. This should be the landlord’s responsibility.

    • weka 4.2

      Read the policy, it says they will “remove the obligation on tenants to pay letting fees” (an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act).

  5. Stephen 5

    How many rights of renewal? One? Meaning a total rent period of six years? Or two? Or three? I ask only because like a lot of people my age part of the reason I have two flats to let out is that I need to provide a home for my own children in the next few years. If the sitting tenant can stay forever, should I ask them to leave before the election, leave the properties empty until my kids move in (yes, totally silly and socially moronic); or will there still be a right for my immediate family to be allowed to live in the flats (with adequate notice)?

    • weka 5.1

      Have you read the actual policy? I’m pretty sure that this is pitched at giving more security to tenants but not in an absolutist way. Also, it will take time for any new legislation to be enacted. I would also guess that it will depend on what kind of agreements you have in place already.

      I do think that talking about the detail of situations like this is useful in developing wise policy.

    • David Mac 5.2

      As I understand the policy. The default tenancy is a 3 year fixed term. If you state nothing to the contrary on the agreement, it’s a 3 year deal.

      Currently the default agreement (Unless otherwise stated) is a periodical (Some say ‘week to week’) arrangement.

      Tenants and landlords will continue to be able to arrive at whatever arrangement they both agree to. 6 months, periodical, whatever but it must be described on the contract, otherwise it’s automatically a 3 year fixed term.

  6. Union city greens 6

    Not a big fan of statutory 3 year contracts as I think it should be up to negotiation, but the rest of the plan is solid as, well, brick houses.

  7. David Mac 7

    Letting fees have become a crucial revenue source for all property management businesses. They are typically 1 week’s rent, paid by an incoming tenant to the letting agent. It’s not uncommon for letting fee income over a period to exceed the traditional source of revenue, a % of the rent paid.

    Unless replaced, outlawing letting fees will bankrupt most property management business models. This would suit some people but I think they are unlikely to just roll over and die.

    I think they’ll get around the Green policy by dividing what was once the letting fee by the number of weeks in a fixed term tenancy and add it to the weekly rental ask. Retain that sum when disbursing funds to owners. Call it something like The tenant appointment service fee.

    I do think some kind of licensing regime is a good idea. With something as important as someone’s home, it seems silly to have the arrangement looked after by someone that could of been a septic tank evactuator yesterday and created a free website, got some cards printed this morning and Hey Presto…..

    “Yesterday I couldn’t spell Property Managar and today I are one.”

    But again, the poor end user, they’ll get in the neck again, costs go up, tenant pays.

    • Muttonbird 7.1

      Part of the problem with letting fees is the lump sum at a time when tenants have other big costs, bond difference or bond itself, moving costs, etc. And of course tenants being tenants they don’t have millions stashed away like landlords do.

      I don’t think anyone imagines that the letting fees are just going to disappear, rather they will be born by both the landlord and the tenant. I think they should be fully born by the landlord myself but yeah, the landlord will just slap an extra 10 bucks on the rent to pay for the agent to scuttle around and peer into peoples lives on their behalf.

      At the very least a week’s rent up front will be gone.

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