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Newman - Labour - a threat to landlords

Labour - a threat to landlords

Dr Muriel Newman Wednesday, 6 July 2005 Speeches - Other

Speech to Palmerston North Property Investors, Bridge Club Rooms, Palmerston North, Wednesday, 6 July, 7.30pm

Of all sector groups in New Zealand, property investors stand to lose the most if Labour is re-elected for a third term. And what is worse, is that so many people involved in the residential rental housing business are completely unaware of the threat to their future livelihoods, despite Labour spelling it out in a discussion document released last year.

Property investors represent a threat to socialists. That is why Labour has dreamt up a smorgasbord of punitive proposals to undermine residential property as a preferred investment option for those who are saving for their retirement or pursuing financial independence.

The proposals Labour signalled in its Residential Tenancies Act review document were rent controls, the registration of all landlords, a register of all tenancies, warrant of fitness checks for every tenancy, regulation to provide for longer tenancies, the introduction of measures to prevent landlords from discriminating against tenants who may be judged to be undesirable and the appointment of government agents to assist tenants in their negotiations with landlords.

Further, the extending of the capital gains tax that already exists on rental property - if a sale can be judged to be a trade - has been signalled and Labour is intent on strengthening that as well.

Labour has also increased the funding available for third sector housing-subsidised housing to be owned by local authorities and community agencies - as a way of further undermining the housing market.

What Labour hasn’t done in this whole area is to address the problems most often faced by the Tenancy Tribunal - bad tenants who refuse to pay the rent or pay for the damage that they have caused.

While 90 percent of the 40,000 or so Tenancy Tribunal cases a year deal with this issue, Labour’s discussion document failed to address the need to require the small proportion of tenants who cause most of the problems in the sector to change their ways.

It is my view that a hard core of “tenants from hell” should be banned from living in private sector houses - unless a landlord specifically agrees to take them despite knowing about their problematic track record - with Housing NZ being required to house them.

At the present time I am aware of cases where tenants have proved to be so difficult that they have been banned by Housing NZ, only to be thrust onto unsuspecting private landlords. This is not good enough. Housing NZ should be the housing agency of last resort.

Further, the Tenancy Tribunal should surely have the power to require those sorts of tenants to undergo rehabilitation and training. Just as motorists who drive dangerously can be required to undergo remedial training, so too should tenants from hell.

New Zealand’s housing market is a great example of free enterprise in action. Willing buyers and sellers negotiate and settle private contracts for home ownership. Some live in these houses and others rent them out. Willing landlords and tenants renegotiate and settle private contracts for home occupation, with the state playing a relatively minor role except in the event of trouble or if financial support in the form of the accommodation supplement is needed.

The arrangement has withstood the test of time - property owners working in partnership with the state to provide accommodation for those New Zealanders who don’t own their own home - and it is an arrangement that should be personal and respected, not undermined.

Labour’s plan, after the election, to undermine the rental property market will threaten residential property as a favoured investment for those saving for their own retirement. Given that so few property investors have read the discussion document or are even aware that any threat exists, I would ask that anyone who is as concerned as I am about this issue, tells as many people as they can that they need to be aware of what Labour are planning to do after the election.

I set up a website to support property investors - and I am urging everyone with an interest in property issues to sign up so that I can keep them informed about any developments in this area. The website also contains information on the discussion document, so visitors can check it all out for themselves.

ACT is the only party in Parliament that has continuously stood up for the rights of property investors. A Party Vote for ACT on Election Day will ensure that we will be able to continue in that important role.


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