Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi has announced changes aimed at protecting tenants:
- limiting rent increases to once every 12 months and banning the solicitation of rental bids by landlords
- improving tenants’ security by removing a landlord’s right to use no-cause terminations to end a periodic tenancy agreement
- making rental properties safer and more liveable by letting tenants add minor fittings such as brackets to secure furniture against earthquake risk, to baby-proof the property, install visual fire alarms and doorbells, and hang pictures
- improving compliance with the law by increasing financial penalties and introducing new tools to take direct action against parties who are not meeting their obligations. . .
What looks like gains for tenants add costs and difficulties for landlords.
“Every change Labour has made so far in this area has restricted supply and pushed up rents,” said National Party leader Simon Bridges. “These changes will be no different, hurting those they say they want to help.”
Baby and earthquake proofing measures could be justified on the grounds of safety but anything else which could leave holes in or marks on walls like putting up pictures ought to be left to negotiations between tenants and landlords.
That and no longer permitting no-cause terminations are chipping away at the home owners’ property rights and, as Eric Crampton points out, do nothing to fix the underlying problem of poor rentals which is a housing shortage.
If you really care about protecting tenants, you need to have massive increases in housing supply. You need to have landlords competing for tenants. You need to have the run-down, damp, grotty dungers left vacant because people have other places that they can afford to live instead. When you’re in a massive housing shortage and the alternative to a crappy house is a garage or a car, crappy houses get rented out. If we instead had a surplus of housing, those places would be left vacant and their owners would have to decide whether to refurbish or tear down. . .
Tenancy regulation will not build more houses. It can only address some of the current symptoms of a fundamentally broken housing market.
Worse, it is the kind of move that makes the most sense if the Government is pessimistic about its chances of fixing the real underlying problem – making it easier to get new housing built. . .
Not only will regulation not build more houses, it will add to the costs and compliance which make leasing homes even more unattractive to landlords.
These ones do further damage by putting tenants right to occupy above those of the property rights of the house owners.