It is pleasure to welcome you to this AGM, the 32nd since the first NZ Property Investors’ Federation AGM in 1984. This has been an eventful year for landlords and NZPIF. I would suggest that never has the existence of a body advocating for landlords and property investors been more important. We have seen the introduction of new legislation with regard to insulation and smoke alarms, of which we are fully supportive, and we have the implications of the Osaki Court ruling that absolves tenants of all responsibility for any accidental or negligent damage they may cause. On top of that we have all the problems associated with what seems, an ever increasing use of meth in this country. There has also been a rising tide of anti-investor sentiment, with property investors almost exclusively being portrayed as solely responsible for all the problems of the housing market, a viewpoint which a number of the media’s selective “ go to” commentators seem only too willing to reinforce.
Without a single representative voice advocating for landlords, there is no doubt what so ever, that we would be faced with far different environment than we currently have.
At the discussion meetings on any pending legislation there is almost exclusively only one voice representing private landlords and that is our voice. In most cases there are generally only two of us representing landlords. In the case of the meth standards committee, we only have one representative. On the other side of the table there are some industry representatives, who tend to see any legislation, and the compulsion that goes with it, as an opportunity to promote the Rolls Royce option, with little or no thought given to what the cost is and who foots the bill. It is not easy to continually have to defend ourselves and to promote the only contrary point of view all of the time.
Fortunately within MBIE there are policy personal and advisors who are not only practical, but who also see that there needs to be a reasonable relationship between costs and benefits.
In the case of meth contamination, as mentioned a Standards committee has been formed to establish NZ standards around testing and clean up procedures. This process has been bought forward by Government with a view to having these guidelines in place as soon as practically possible. However on the Standards committee there is only one voice representing private landlords, and that is our voice.
We owe a great deal of thanks to Andrew King for his efforts, for the research he has put in and for his dogged persistence in endeavouring to get the best outcome for landlords.
(Subsequently the Ministry of Health has put forward revised guidelines for discussion)
Most of you are probably aware of the Osaki case and the ruling by the Court which absolved tenants of all responsibility for any damage they may cause whether it be accidental or just plainly negligent. The consequences of this ruling didn’t take long to emerge and we’ve seen some of these outlined in the media. An example is where a dog, which wasn’t even supposed to be on the property, defecated numerous times in the house and the tenant was absolved of all responsibility for the costs incurred in bringing the house back to a liveable standard. There have been many many more cases in a short space of time where landlords have had to foot the entire cost of tenant damage. To this end Andrew and myself have had numerous meetings right across the political spectrum in an endeavour to achieve some working solution. These discussions are in confidence but there is general consensus from all concerned that the current situation can’t continue and you can be rest assured we will use our best efforts to work for a satisfactory outcome.
(Commendably the Government has since moved to establish consultation working groups facilitated by MBIE to look at some workable and practical solutions)
Last year in my report I stated that “Growing the New Zealand wide membership is a continuing concern and that we seem to have this ceiling of around 3000 memberships”. This has stimulated discussion over the past year about how we can increase our membership and become more relevant to a wider range of investors. Once again over 23% of our membership has not renewed in the past year. In the last four years we have lost virtually our entire current membership numbers. For these people the Association model, which is all we can currently offer, is no longer relevant to them. This is despite all the hard work of Associations around the country, who invariably put on such a good event at their meetings. With the property market as buoyant as it is you would think the climate is just ripe for us to grow.
Taking the three areas that I alluded to earlier as an example - the legislation on insulation, the ramifications of the Osaki ruling and pending standards on Meth testing –these demonstrate the imperative need, that there is strong single voice advocating the viewpoint of landlords. You fund everything we at the NZPIF do, but the results which we do achieve affect every landlord in the country. Would it not be beneficial to have more people contributing to the cost of that work?
The Executive Committee of the NZPIF is convinced that all parts of the organisation need to grow in order to have more and more influence over these issues which affect landlords so much. Therefore it is imperative to attract more members.
Later on this afternoon you are going to vote on two motions that the Executive Committee has put forward for your consideration. We have had some considerable feedback from Associations, and it seems from some of the comments our intentions have been misconstrued. We have been accused of just Empire building and such like. It is not Empire building – as we are all volunteers. Some of us may not even be here next year. Some of us will not even be here after today. We are all in this for the same reason. We’re all landlords just like every one of you. We all want the best results we can achieve as landlords and we all want an environment in which we can work in order to successfully manage our business.
We as an Executive Committee fervently believe it is time for a different approach – with a different membership offering to not only attract new members but, just as importantly, to endeavour to retain our existing members, around 25% -30% of which we lose every single year. The easiest customer to get is the one you’ve already got, and having a membership offering that goes someway to helping retain those existing members should be a priority.
We believe that any new membership type should be a single national offering, the makeup of which will decided by you. Whatever the makeup of that offering, it needs to be consistent throughout the country and we believe run under the administration of the NZPIF to maintain a consistency and to minimise the pressure on local administrators whether these be voluntary or paid.
We ask for your support of those two motions.
It is time for a different approach. If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you will always have the same result and at next year’s AGM someone will be here addressing you and saying “ and this year our membership is just over 3000 and 25 % of our membership has not renewed” .
The annual accounts, which have already been circulated to all Associations, outline the sound financial position of the NZPIF. Many thanks must go to our Treasurer Amanda Watt for the work she puts in and the expertise she brings to the role of Treasurer. Most importantly under her direction, the NZPIF has been able, once again to share with Associations, some of the rebates gathered from business partners. This is possible due to the excellent support shown by members for the National Business Partners programme of the NZPIF. While some of this money is used to operate the NZPIF and help keep the capitation rate to its current level, when the level of rebates during any one financial year is higher than expected the NZPIF Executive Committee wants to thank members by returning some of the rebates back to Associations. The more support given to these sponsors and business partners by Association members around the country, the more NZPIF will be able to share with Associations.
The support from the business community has been maintained this year. We have been able to retain the sponsorship of ANZ at the national level and increase the number of business partners. We thank all these people for their support. Ties with MBIE have been strengthened and they continue to sponsor Landlord of the Year. The reintroduction of the MBIE landlord seminars has been a welcome addition this year.
In conclusion, I would like to thank all my fellow members of the Executive Committee who have given so much time and expertise to the Federation this year. In particular a special thanks goes to Colin Comber who is not seeking re-election. Colin has made a special contribution. His clear and direct approach to meeting procedure, to process and the Constitution have been invaluable to me in my role as President. He has an intimate knowledge and expertise in forming policy and his opinions are clearly thought-out and presented to the table. He has made a special contribution and will be missed. Enjoy your travels Colin and go well sir. To the rest of the team who are restanding many thanks for your efforts during the year. A special thanks must go to Helen Marriott who took on the poisoned chalice that is PIMMS and has worked tirelessly in an endeavour to make PIMMS as user friendly as possible for as many as possible. To the returning Executive Committee members, we look forward to working together for the coming year. We will be pleased to welcome the new Executive Committee members and will value their input in to Federation business.