How drastic are the new changes to tenancy law?

File image/SunLive.

Last week the government passed under urgency a series of big changes to New Zealand's tenancy laws.

These reforms have been in the works since before the 2017 election, but were pushed through the House with just hours of the parliamentary term left.

So why has it taken so long for these changes to be implemented? When will they come in force? And how will they change things for tenants and landlords?

Emile Donovan from RNZ’s The Detail spoke to Stuff's chief political reporter Henry Cooke and landlord Mark Todd about the reformed renting regulations and what they'll mean for a tenancy, or tenants.

The reforms' glacial passage through the House of Representatives can be partially explained by musical chairs within cabinet.

While Phil Twyford was named housing minister when the coalition government came to power, the portfolio was split between several ministers following a reshuffle in mid-2019.

The associate housing Minister Kris Faafoi was tasked with overseeing the reforms' passage through parliament.

Henry Cooke says the changes have been broadly characterised as strengthening renters' rights in legislation which was first passed in the mid-1980s and hasn't been dramatically updated since.

“It really did feel like the bill had been written in a time when rentals were a thing for students and young professionals. Not people with kids, not people staying for a long time.

“There are around 600,000 households renting now. Which is a lot of people.”

Back in the early 1990s, more than 70 per cent of households contained people who owned their own homes; now that number has dropped to just over 60 per cent.

The price of housing has increased considerably in the past 20 years, and the cost of renting has also risen.

Under the new reforms, landlords will only be able to increase rents once every 12 months.

It also bans the practice of rental bidding, where landlords or property managers invite prospective tenants to pay more if they can afford it to secure a competitive spot.

One of the most dramatic changes is abolishing the practice of no-cause terminations, where landlords can kick out tenants with 90 days' notice without having to provide justification.

Instead, they will have to show a pattern of anti-social behaviour over a three-month period, with evidence presented at the Tenancy Tribunal.

Proceedings at the Tenancy Tribunal will also be anonymised for tenants who have been wholly or partially successful with a historical claim at the Tribunal.

However, landlords say the bill is short-sighted and will inadvertently drive up rents, as property managers may decide the risks outweigh the benefits and pull their properties off the rental market.

Listen to the full podcast to hear the whole story.


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Posted on 12-08-2020 07:24 | By

Demand and supply stops “overcharging”. The government could control supply by building basic affordable houses. They have deferred to the private sector for decades, which is fine. It gives people who work hard and achieve things an opportunity to invest and earn income, as well as providing a service that the government is incapable of. The way hard working landlords are resented by people who want others to subsidise their lives is disgraceful. We need to get back to basics of life, which is self survival. Too many want a free ride. My advice is work hard at school, don’t waste your life messing around, get a good job, save up early and do without the frivolous stuff, get on the ladder early, make your own home your priority, buy in cheaper areas. People who do that will be just fine. Life choices.


Posted on 11-08-2020 20:46 | By

We know rentals are investment, but more than that they are places where people live and should be regarded as such. The government should set how much rents go up each year. They do this sort of thing in Canada and it stops Landlords overcharging. Too long have la Florida got away with poor quality rentals. Mold, cold damp houses leaky roofs and so on. Just to make the investment more profitable. It’s ridiculous the way renters are tret. It’s time for even more changes