One implication of Auckland’s long-term housing shortage and resulting housing affordability crisis is that nearly half of all Aucklanders now live in rental accommodation. Among some ethnic groups, especially Maori and Pacific Islanders, most people live in rented accommodation.
There are also clear geographic trends, with much of South Auckland having especially low home ownership rates:
While several initiatives, like KiwiBuild, are aimed at boosting housing supply and thereby improving housing affordability, this will take a long time to filter through. Furthermore, even the “relatively affordable” house prices of KiwiBuild homes are likely to be way out of the price ranges of many people who currently rent. So it’s important to keep looking at what can be done to ensure renters have a decent quality of life.
One of the major issues with renting is how insecure it is. This plays out in the data where renters move much more frequently, including those with school-aged children (who presumably have quite an incentive to stay in the same place):
One likely reason for this frequent moving is that New Zealand’s rental laws currently provide a very low level of tenure security. Essentially, without reason tenants can be turfed out of their homes with (in some cases) little more than six weeks’ notice.
Fortunately the Government is looking to do something about this, today announcing a discussion document that looks to overhaul the worst parts of New Zealand’s rental laws:
The public is being asked for feedback on new Government proposals aimed at making life better for renters, Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford has announced.
“Our tenancy laws are antiquated and don’t reflect the fact that renting is now a long-term reality for many of our families. A third of all New Zealanders now rent,” Phil Twyford said.
“Insecure tenure can forcer families to continually move house. This is particularly tough on children whose education suffers when they have to keep changing schools.”
Phil Twyford urges landlords, tenants and other interested people to have their say on the proposals covered in a discussion document on reforming the Residential Tenancies Act released today.
“We want to strike a balance between providing tenants with security of tenure and allowing them to make their house a home, while protecting the rights and interests of landlords.”
The discussion document covers proposals on:
- ending no cause tenancy terminations while ensuring landlords can still get rid of rogue tenants
- increasing the amount of notice a landlord must generally give tenants to terminate a tenancy from 42 days to 90 days
- whether changes to fixed-term agreements are justified to improve security of tenure
- limiting rent increases to once a year
- whether there should be limitations on the practice of ‘rent bidding’
- whether the general obligations that tenants and landlords have remain fit for purpose
- better equipping tenants and landlords to reach agreement about pets and minor alternations to the home
- whether further controls for boarding houses are needed to provide adequate protection for boarding house tenants
- introducing new tools and processes into the compliance and enforcement system.
“As people rent for longer, they want to be secure in their homes and put down roots in their community. That’s why making life better for renters is an important aspect of the Government’s housing plan,” Phil Twyford said.
The discussion document and a link to an online submission survey are available at: www.mbie.govt.nz/rta-reform.
Consultation runs for eight weeks and closes at 5pm, on Sunday 21 October 2018.
These are important changes, but it’s also important to get them right. So head to the MBIE website and have your say.