The Government has set up a “Rules Reduction Taskforce” to look at options for revamping housing and property rules. They’re currently asking for online submissions to help inform their work. Submissions close on Monday 1 June, which is next week, so if you want to have a say, head to their website and put in a submission.

It’s a simple process that should only take 5-10 minutes. Here’s some motivational music:

[As an aside, I’m not sure whether I like the Taskforce’s name. International indices like the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking suggest that we’re not exactly over-regulated:

World Bank ease of doing business rankings

Perhaps “Rules Optimisation Taskforce” would have been a better name. It seems to me like we have too many rules in some areas, and too few in others. Well-considered reductions in rules can be a very good thing – look at the positive effect removing minimum parking requirements has had on development in Auckland’s city centre – but eliminating regulations based solely on ideology can be costly and dangerous – consider the leaky building crisis!]

If you’re looking to make a submission, I’d encourage you to take a look at Transportblog’s submission on the Auckland Unitary Plan, which highlights a number of planning rules that may pose a barrier to development, such as:

  • Minimum parking requirements, which impose large costs on businesses and households that may not necessarily want or need as much parking as rules require
  • Various regulatory limits on more intensive development, ranging from controls on the number of dwellings that can be built on a single site to building height limits.
  • Limits on building accessory dwellings/granny flats (which have been a big hit in Vancouver) and converting standalone houses to flats.

I’m sure readers will have some other good ideas about submissions – please leave your thoughts in the comments!

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  1. When you send a submission via the online form, what happens next? I just get redirected to a blank form so can’t tell if my submission was sent or lost.

  2. The leaky building crisis wasnt the result of lack of rules. It was primarily the result of allowing manufacturers to get away with insufficiently tested building products. A simple requirement for manufacturers to sign off on installation of their product would have avoided all the leaky problems.
    The fact that manufacturers do not have to do this, even now, allows them to wriggle out of any claims . The other major cause was the failure of building science and the government body responsible for testing products to pick up on the risks of using certain products despite passing them for general use.
    Even now leaky buildings are being built due to a lack of knowledge around building science.Regulations will not stop this problem but research and accountability will.

    1. How does one ensure that “research and accountability” are consistently applied in the absence of regulatory policies?

      It seems like what you’re proposing is in fact a system of regulations – i.e. strict liability for manufacturers plus government testing as a condition of the approval of new building products.

      1. Many of those products were actually tested anyway, so nothing new there. The problem was the test was conducted by BRANZ and paid for by the manufacturers in many cases so impartiality was lost, but the appearance of it remaind due to BRANZ’s involvement. There is already a levy with every consent to pay for research and development of standards and building research. Accountability also sat within the old code as it does now with Producer Statements on completion, so all the mechanisms were there, just never applied and most manufacturers were reliant on industry training to get products installed correctly, but never provided any.

    2. It wasn’t just products, it was also flawed design. Potentially ‘leaky’ homes with decent eaves have few issues. No eaves and plaster usually equals issues. Whoever allowed ‘no-eave’ homes is just as guilty as the product manufacturers. Some design principles are simply commonsense, especially in a country with known rainfall.

      1. I will say the lack of eaves helped but it was more the products used and practice used. Ie hardy board or ciement board often was sprayed with texture and then painted. And the mass use of silicone instead of metal flashings.

  3. I would also recommend having the double drive way for more then 2 houses rule removed to.
    Anyone have any ides around this.

  4. This rules reduction taskforce is a farce reeking of predetermination. This is clear from the on line submission form which only asks for bad examples of regulation. There is no provision for recording examples of good and/or necessary regulation.

    In my experience examples of bad regulation often suffer from incomplete information and/or inadequate actions by the complainant. For example delays in the resource consent process caused by the applicant providing incomplete and shonky plans, but blaming everyone and everything but himself as being at fault. How many of the submitters to this rules reduction taskforce will be blaming someone else for their own deficiencies in meeting the regulations?

    1. Many perhaps. Although id rather have some faith that there will br some decent people apppinted to the taskforce who will sort the wheat from the chaff. All the more reason for informed people to make balanced submissions – and take the opportunity to praise good rules while condemning the clangers, like the one peter mentions.

  5. Andrew you’re completely right – this initiative is a total farce, descended from one of the muppets in the National government. I can’t remember which one it was – and it doesn’t really matter – I thought it was one of those bullshit election campaign speeches which quietly gets forgotten once the election has passed. It would make my blood boil if I could be arsed to comment about it, but i think the best thing to do is just to ignore it, and hopefully their stupid taskforce will be ignored by most of the public.

  6. I have absolutely no confidence that the RRT is anything other than a rabbit chase.

    If, for example, we were able to halve the cost of building permits, we would save people tens of thousands and increase the supply of affordable housing and commercial buildings. But such an outcome seems unlikely.

    1. Ha, yes. That’s part of the reason I posted the link to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings:

      They suggest that NZ is near the top of the table, although still with a fair amount of room for improvement, when it comes to obtaining a construction permit. The average time to obtain consent to build a warehouse in Auckland is 93 days; the OECD average is 149.5 days.

  7. How about everyone write in complaining about the rules National has placed on starting the CRL construction… Or asking at least that they also apply to motorways.

    The rule about no FBT on car parks is also stupid and should be removed.

    1. That is an excellent idea. Although they may have carefully what qualifies as a rule. And the crl farce created by national are technically referred to as “targets” i believe.

      1. A classic case of who watches the watchmen?

        Better add “remove rules preventing submission of rules presented as targets from the rule reduction initiative” to the request.

  8. Is this just a friendly name for deregulation?

    None of the issues with housing are about being stuck with ‘rules’ – they are about leadership with their head stuck in the 60s. It’s a political problem, not a regulatory one. Like most major problems facing the world, incremental changes aren’t going to get anywhere, we need leaps in thinking and problem solving. It requires a vision for how the world could be better, a bit of a dirty thought these days with all the failed -isms. No political party, council, mayor in NZ has that that I’ve seen. People wouldn’t vote for them anyway.

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