Plans to fold the Department of Building and Housing (DBH) into a new Super Ministry "may disadvantage everyone in the rental industry," claim the Property Investors Federation (NZPIF).
Yesterday Prime Minister John Key revealed plans to merge the operations of the DBH with the Ministry of Economic Development, Department of Labour and Ministry of Science and Innovation, creating the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
"I'm not sure what the Department of Building and Housing has to do with business, innovation or employment," said NZPIF president Andrew King.
"We are concerned that the measure is purely for cost cutting purposes and we have already seen a dramatic drop in services in the past two years. While the people at the DBH are trying to cope as best they can, their income from the interest on bond deposits has fallen at the same time that Government Departments are being squeezed in general."
King said a recent restructure, purported to be for service improvements, led to a deterioration of a previously good service.
"Landlords and tenants have seen the time it takes to get justice from the Tenancy Tribunal continue to expand," King said.
"We are extremely wary of this new announcement as we fear it may disadvantage everyone in the rental industry.
"As a key stakeholder, the NZPIF looks forward to being consulted on the merger plans as they are developed. Any further deterioration in the service would be intolerable for everyone in the rental industry."
Auckland Property Investors Association (APIA) president David Whitburn said he understood the Government's cost saving rationale, though he also raised concerns around the Tenancy Tribunal process.
"Continued tough economic times mean rent arrears are still more frequent than we'd like them to be, [and] we have Tenancy Tribunal application times ballooning out to over two months."
Whitburn said he hoped the new Ministry retained the DBH's customer focus - and that as part of the changes issues around Tenancy Tribunals would be dealt with.
"If they can start by getting the mediation timeframes down and Tenancy Tribunal applications times down, that would be most appreciated," he said.
"I am excited by the change, and with these timeframes ballooning over the past year to unacceptable levels, change had to occur."