By the time you read this all submissions on the Residential Tenancies Act Review and the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill standards will have closed.
From speaking to some tenant advocates it is clear that we come to the discussion from two very different viewpoints. It appears to me that some of the more vocal tenant advocates are extreme and one sided in their thoughts with an unrealistic expectation for the outcomes of their proposals.
This is a real shame as the NZPIF has always tried to form policy by considering the needs of tenants as well as the needs of rental property providers. Other tenant advocates have also approached changes to our industry in a similar manner that I firmly believe lead to better long-term outcomes for everyone.
While many of us agree that a rental property should be a tenant’s home, an increasing number of tenant groups come from the position that this means having all the rights of a home owner with none of the costs, risks or responsibilities involved in owning a property.
These groups claim that the rental system is broken because tenants do not have all the rights of a home owner. This is unbalanced and totally unrealistic.
Coming from this viewpoint, they believe it is fair that a tenant can give three weeks’ notice to end their tenancy, but they can stay in the property as long as they like. In their view a landlord should not be able to provide a 90-day notice to a tenant so they can sell a property with vacant position. More than this, they believe an owner can only sell their rental property to another investor who must take on the tenant whether they want to or not.
Such a rule would restrict the number of people who could buy the property by around two thirds, and then further restrict buyers to those who want to take on your existing tenant. It is incredible to think that anyone can think in such an unbalanced and unfair way, and we can just hope that our Government can see through this poorly thought out proposal.
There are many rental property providers who would welcome a tenant who wants to stay for a very long time in their property. It is already happening through our existing tenancy system, with many tenancies being 20 years or more in length.
Rather than forcing everyone into one restrictive and heavily regulated tenancy option that doesn’t meet the needs of all the various tenants and landlords that make up our industry, there is a better way.
The NZPIF has submitted that a third tenancy be establish in a balanced way to meet the needs of both landlords’ and tenants who would like to provide and receive such a long-term tenancy. Such a tenancy could see owners provide real security for tenants by committing to not selling or moving into their rental property, thereby giving real security for their tenants.
It must be acknowledged, however, that this involves the owner giving up some of their property rights and they should be compensated in some way for this to provide balance. Either the tenant will need to make some concessions or there needs to be an incentive for the owner to provide such a tenancy.
A new purpose-built tenancy would provide the real security that some tenants genuinely want and match it with owners who are able to provide it. It would also continue to allow tenants that value a periodic or fixed term tenancy to still have this option.
Good, honest communication and a balanced, realistic approach is always a better solution to stamping your foot and saying I want it all my way.