Dunedin landlords worried about proposed changes

Dunedin property investors and real estate agents are watching with trepidation as the Government launches a raft of new proposals designed to make life easier for renters.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford yesterday said the Government was considering making reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act.

They ranged from making a 90 days' notice period compulsory for all periodic tenancies, potentially having a right of renewal for fixed-term tenancies, allowing a rent rise only once a year, and controlling "rental bidding''.

Allowing tenants to keep pets unless there was a good reason not to - for instance a property was not fenced - was also mooted in the consultation document, as was a licensing system for boarding houses and operators.

Landlords could also potentially have to give a specific reason for ending a tenancy.

Proposals have gone out to public consultation, with submissions closing on October 21.

Real estate agent Joe Nidd said although he appreciated the reasoning behind the proposals, the Government had not "pinned down the detail''.

The right of renewal could have a negative impact because Dunedin people who might want to rent their properties out for a couple of years - for instance academics travelling elsewhere for work - could be deterred from having tenants at all.

"[Their houses] may be empty for a period of time.''

In 2016, 33% of properties purchased through Nidd Realty were rental properties, compared to 25% in 2017 and only 18% in 2018, he said.

"We are seeing less hunger from investors,'' he said. "We've got more owner-occupiers, and less properties available for tenants.''

Making things too difficult for landlords would lead to a further shortage of rental properties in Dunedin, Mr Nidd said.

Otago Property Investors' Association president Cliff Seque could not see "any good news for landlords'' in the proposed changes.

Aspects such as the right of renewal raised the question of when the right should be exercised.

Having to have a reason to terminate periodic tenancies could pose some difficulties, for instance to landlords who had an "antisocial tenant'' whom other tenants or neighbours did not want to dob in.

"Where's the evidence to get them out?'' he said.

"The neighbours would complain to you, but they wouldn't come along to the tribunal and be a witness.''

However Otago University Students' Association student support manager Sage Burke said the Government had not gone far enough.

The association supported Minister Twyford's bid to create more security and stability for tenants, but while only licensing for boarding houses and their operators was proposed in the document OUSA supported an investigation into licensing property managers as well.

"What we would like to see is the foundation for a more equitable relationship between landlords and tenants,'' he said.




There has always been a "Blame Game" between Landlords V's Tenants. Why Landlords would not invest in a product such as a Certificate of Compliance to set themselves out from "cowboy" landlords I have no idea. If a Landlord can prove that a house has a good standard of livability and that it is a lawful property, then it removes the blame game and resources can be spent where they are needed!
visit: www.i-compliant.co.nz

Fair comment Megan. As a landlord who does look after their rental property it is somewhat annoying having to 'prove' that. Are tenants not able to make their own decision on how good a property is and if its value for money? Unfortunately whoever is thinking up these ideas has no idea of the reality of the rental situation. Take the proposal to banish fixed term leases. We rent our home for 3 months of the year when we go away. Its been easy in the past, we advertise it for that time, tenants accept if it suits them and everyone is happy when they move out on the agreed date. If we are not allowed a fixed term then it has to be periodic and immediately the lease starts I will need to give 3 months notice. There will be no shorter term fixed period rentals available for tenants who may want them if this proposal is accepted. Then the proposal re having a good reason not to allow pets. I don't think our insurance company will insure us again if we allow pets after paying out $5000 to replace carpet ruined by tenants pets, is that a good enough reason? It would be lovely if we were 100% able to prejudge tenant responsibility prior to them moving in but its not that easy.