Robert Whitaker says that in order to fix housing, we must fix renting

Robert Whitaker says that in order to fix housing, we must fix renting

The following article is the eighth chapter from Progressive thinking, ten perspectives on housing, a Public Service Association (PSA) publication. Interest.co.nz is publishing all 10 chapters from different authors on various aspects of housing.

By Robert Whitaker*

Half of all New Zealanders rent their home and as a renter for more than 15 years I can tell you that everything about renting needs to change, and needs to change now.

New Zealand’s tenancy laws were designed at a time where — for the middle-classes, at least — renting was a short-term arrangement on the road to home ownership.

Today, for politicians and media commentators comfortable in their first, second and third homes, the rental market is viewed through rose-tinted glasses: three character-building years in a freezing beer-soaked flat before getting on the property ladder. But the reality now is that half of all New Zealanders are renters and most are in it for the long-haul.

Cold and unsafe housing now kills 1,600 people a year – more than the road toll and workplace illness and injury combined¹. Despite this, our politicians remain fixated on a barely updated version of the “quarter-acre dream”.

Power and wellbeing

Understanding the power imbalance between renters and landlords is fundamental to imagining a comprehensive solution to the housing crisis.

A person’s home (renter or not) is central to their wellbeing, affecting all aspects of their life. Our current tenancy laws do not acknowledge this in any way, meaning that all renters live in a state of permanent uncertainty. In the landlord is vested the power — for any reason, or no reason — to disrupt or take away a person’s home.

Perversely, the responsibility for ensuring landlords meet their obligations is vested solely in renters, requiring individuals to effectively take their landlord to court to have a dispute resolved. It is unsurprising then that only 5% of cases at the Tenancy Tribunal are brought by tenants.

Taking a case to the Tribunal is considered to be the “nuclear” option, effectively ending the tenancy and relationship with the landlord and also placing future tenancies at risk as win or lose a tenant’s name appears in public tribunal records.²

Most renters want to think the best of their landlords and engage with them in good faith, but competition in the market, and the underlying threat of being booted out for someone else, limits the extent to which a renter is willing to assert their rights.

On the other side, it’s naive to think that even the most warm-hearted and fair landlord is going to act against their own personal financial interest.

When push comes to shove – and the property market is doing a lot of shoving at the moment – a property owner will always seek to protect their investment.

In our big cities, housing supply is constrained and profiteering property management companies have unchecked authority over who is housed and who is not. This means discrimination is rampant, with few options for recourse. Default tenancies are set at one year and aligned to start and finish at a peak in seasonal demand.

This allows landlords to demand top dollar in informal rent auctions and then have guaranteed rent through to the next seasonal increase³.

The only realistic way for someone to escape this cycle is to become a home-owner, which drives house price inflation and the property speculation that exploits it.

Hope and housing security

Today, housing security is denied to half of our population simply to maximise investment returns for the few. This cannot be allowed to continue. Our tenancy laws must change.

Wellington Renters United wants to see all tenancies be made permanent unless there are specific and reasonable circumstances for a fixed-term arrangement. The tenant would have the ability to give reasonable notice to end the tenancy but the landlord would be required to have a specific — legally testable — reason for serving notice. Selling the property, or wishing to move a family member in would not qualify, but illegal activity or failure to pay rent would.

The permanence of the relationship would encourage both parties to behave in good faith and seek to resolve disagreements. Where a dispute did arise, there would be a duty to maintain the status quo until the dispute is resolved. The state should also make well-resourced mediation services available to support dispute resolution so that no renter loses their home just because they have asserted their rights.

Whilst radically different from our current tenancy laws, this is actually very similar to legal framework we have in place for employment.

The Employment Relations Act is a good example of the sort of law we need for renters – a law that recognises the inherent power imbalance between the two parties and seeks to mitigate it.

Sitting alongside this, we also need a thorough set of well-enforced quality standards to ensure every rental home is safe for human habitation. Such standards should be based on scientific evidence and inspected against — at the landlord’s cost — by local authorities.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is precisely the regime we already have in place for food safety.

I see no reason why a hospitalised child is any more acceptable when their illness is caused by their home rather than by their dinner.

These changes won’t address every outrage renters face in our current system (ask any renter you know about “letting fees”) but without delivering a secure, warm, dry and safe home for the 50% of New Zealanders who rent, how can we possibly say that we have “solved” our housing crisis?

¹Nicol, Ruth (2017), “1600 deaths attributed to cold houses each winter in New Zealand” 9 June 2017 in Noted, accessible from : http://www.noted.co.nz/currently/socialissues/ 1600-deaths-attributed-to-cold-houses-each-winter-in-new-zealand/.

²All Tenancy Tribunal orders are published online for three years and landlords and property managers routinely use them to vet tenants.

³In Wellington rents rose more than 10% between December 2017 and March 2017.


*Robert Whitaker is a designer and activist living in Wellington with his growing family. In 2014 he helped found Renters United, a new campaigning organisation for renters in Wellington and across the country.

Note: The views expressed in Progressive thinking, ten perspectives on housing belong to the authors and do not necessarily represent the view of PSA members or the organisation.

The foreword is here.
The first chapter is here.
The second chapter is here.

The third chapter is here.
The fourth chapter is here.
The fifth chapter is here.

The sixth chapter is here.
...and the seventh chapter is here.

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80 Comments

Yes I like the German model, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Rent controls are required too, The median wage is around $37K. Rent should be restricted to no more than 20- 30% of the take home pay of that rate. Teh housing crisis would vanish overnight. The Government would save over $2 billion in subsidies and guess what? They might be able to do something about health with that money!

Seeing as you remain clueless as to why rent controls are a horrible idea, especially with our housing stock, read below.

https://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/08/economist-exp...

Alright Nymad lets discuss this article. firstly it states after providing some stats, that Economists disagree with rent controls. That's a concern there - economists, there has been enough discussion on this site to identified was a flawed bunch they are when it come to driving economies - look at the mess we are in now!

They argue that rent controls restrict the amount of property available to the market. This is put down to landlords not building rental properties. This is not happening in NZ and probably never has, they are buying up existing properties and taking them out of the market for those looking for their own home. As to people fixing up their basement to be rented out - how often does that occur here, a little but not much I suspect. Possibly more so lately as families try to rescue member from living on the streets. They say that landlords become choosier - so what? Long term reliable tenants are always better than the highly mobile. And that is about the sum of it.

Building new houses has not been driven by landlords in NZ ever, I believe. New houses have generally been sold to home buyers. NZs problem has been investors buying into the residential property market, banking on capital gain, some renting out to off set some or all of their costs.

Lets face the choice to get into the rental market is a BUSINESS decision, and if you are stupid enough to pay too much to be able to afford to rent your property out at an affordable rate, you deserve rent controls!

As I have said before rent controls are about protecting all the people of a country not just the money. The failure of them is because landlords have dropped their lips and sulked and not done what they need to do to protect their market and clients as they should have. Just greedy!

Today rent controls are not the only answer because the problem is now too bad. Who can own residential property must also be addressed, and land banking too. But deal with all and the problem will go away.

"That's a concern there - economists, there has been enough discussion on this site to identified was a flawed bunch they are when it come to driving economies - look at the mess we are in now!"

Name me one economy that is driven by economists.
Please, please, please name but one.
Economists don't define economies, Politicians do. And by that token, constituents do. And, by that token, it's essentially that economists have very little say in anything vis-a-vis moronic voters.

What economists do exceptionally well is understand how markets operate. One of the most studied of these is the housing market :)
I think you would be hard pressed to find any economist, or any case study that shows that rent controls are the answer to any private sector housing issues.

So Nymad you take issue with my first statement and nothing else? No answer? I don't trust theorists because they convince politicians to implement their theories and cause lots of damage. Milton Friedman's Free Market model, adopted by a large part of the world under pressure from the US and look what good that had done v harm for ordinary people!

The 1972 Labour government tried rent controls, it did not work as it was a fortune to administer and it made no difference as most renters only stay 1-2 years and move on. It is amazing that Politicians are talking this clap-trap when it failed 45 years ago. In Germany it is not as simple as you think.

That saying of, ‘history always repeats’ runs true.

Makes sense. If rent control was a thing I would choose wealthier tenants who are more likely to move to a better /their own place every 5 years or so. That way I get to reset to market rent more often. Wealthier tenants also tend to take better care of the place. With the reduction in new rentals built due to rent controls I'd presumably also have my pick from a greater pool of potential tenants.

Of for goodness sake !

Don't we learn anything from history ?

Does anyone actually remember Rent Controls and the massive shortage of accommodation it caused ?

Quite simply there was nothing to rent , you simply could not find a rental property , investors simply did not enter the market to provide rentals at a sub-economic level .

Very soon those properties subject to Rent control were sold to people who moved in themselves .......... it was the only way to get the tenants out

Or I could just not build the second dwelling on each of the plots that I'm intending to build on at the minute. If I was the only person to avoid building I'd lose out, but if I could get the government to legislate an environment where building was less popular that would be ideal...

..or we could throw in a land tax so you could not afford to do it huh?

In my UK youth it was easier to rent if you were a foreign student because the landlord knew you would leave eventually.

Property King,

From the name you use,it would be reasonable to suppose that you are a landlord. You may ba an excellent,caring landlord and I hope you are. What is clear however,it that there are a substantial number who can only be classed as ratbags(I am being polite here).
It is a disgrace that people have to live in the conditions described in today's Herald,with the resultant health and social issues for society.
We urgently need a government which will tackle this and that means forcing landlords to make their properties habitable-and not atthe expense of the tenants. I speak as a landlord,though only with one property. I wouldn't live in a cold,damp house,so why should I expect a tenant to do so?
I have lived in NZ for 14 years now and I just don't understand how we tolerate the appallingstandard of the housing stock. Why do we have leaky buildings?

@ murray86 , Mate , who on earth is going to provide rental accommodation in Auckland for as little as $142 a week?

20% of $37k is equal to $142 a week .

This rental would service a mortgage of just $123,000 , and this is not even enough for the deposit on a section , let alone a home

You can't magically fix a supply/demand problem with rent controls. 132,000 people come into NZ every year. If Billy Boy halved that by excluding chefs and students the net migration would be about zero. On the supply side there are lots of snouts in the trough when it comes to land banking and ripoff construction materials.

As a landlord I'm actually somewhat in favour of long term tenancy contracts 5 years (indexed to inflation) & rent control so long as things such as rates cease to be built into the rent and the tenant becomes directly responsible for them. I reckon it would encourage tenants to vote sensibly whenever something that might increase rates (like a new train set) comes up.

We don't build enough houses, so we need to make house owning less profitable?

Okay , but how on earth will you do this ?

In Germany, its way more than 50% who are renters , and who would suggest they were "forgotten" or "losers" because of it .

Here we almost have a stigma for people who rent

Landlords are not all bad out there, I encourage my tenants to stay as long as possible and never increase the rent it's a win win. I dislike Government telling me what I must do to my properties like the insulation reqirements. There is no consideration to things like is it north facing/does it have large windows/does it have a fire or heat pump etc. And why does the insulation requirements not apply to all houses ?? If you don't rent then your not important it just pisses me off. Landlord discrimination, I have provided accomodation/homes for hundreds of people, there are 250,000 landlords in NZ all providing a service that would otherwise have to be picked up by the state. Throw in a CGT and I'm out like a lot I know. Look at Australia since it introduced a CGT it did 3 things 1.It removed permanently a big % of houses from the market as investors never sell 2. It created really really expensive suburbs as investors cashed up and put a bigger % of their wealth into the family home 3. It made all houses more expensive as any tax always ends up being paid by the buyer !

Im not sure anyone is saying they are all bad. Ive had good and bad.

A sure fire way to tell they are bad though is "how dare government tell me to insulate" strawman. Sellers of cars must make sure they're safe. Employers need safe healthy work conditions, schools need to keep kids safe and healthy. Why exactly should a home be any different? Must, like any other product, be fit for purpose.

If the result is that part time investors exit, how is that a bad thing? The house is still there, and on the market. I think you'll find that is the point. Professional landlords who genuinely run a business will be fine. For example, commercial leases are long term ... they still get investment. It seems the underlying noise is often from the mum and dad investors, who perhaps should be in a different asset class.

The Employment Relations Act is a good example of the sort of law we need for renters – a law that recognises the inherent power imbalance between the two parties and seeks to mitigate it.

And that's the exact reason that many tradespeople are sole traders - employing others has become so hard that it is not worth the bother. Now cross-apply this reasoning to landlordizing.....

Yep so all the "landlords" buying gambling on capital gains but having no clue on how to run a business stay out of the housing market allowing FHBers and professional landlords to buy, great outcome.

"Cold and unsafe housing now kills 1,600 people a year" ??
Where does this turkey get that figure from?
More likley 1600 landloirds die each year from stress and abuse from their tenants
What a load of rubbish.

lol, true
as i said before, these guys pull BS out of thin air ..::)

You might want to read this http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11913334 - it's an utter disgrace, but then again the herald being the bastion of socialism that it is, you might not believe it....

I suggest you do a bit of reading before posting your own rubbish.

The 1600 death figure comes from this 2007 paper: Trends and determinants of excess winter mortality in New Zealand: 1980 to 2000.
https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-7-263.

Then this from the NZ Medical Association: Improving health, safety and energy efficiency in New Zealand through measuring and applying basic housing standards.
https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal/read-the-journal/all-issues/2010-2019/20...
When you see your GP next you can tell him/her, he/she is an idiot for swallowing the Marxist drivel the NZMA publishes on housing. You know better as you have skin in the game as a property owner.

A quick summary:
http://www.noted.co.nz/currently/social-issues/1600-deaths-attributed-to...

10
up

Oh FFS sake Ollie. Get rid of you and your landlord followers and we have people owning their own homes again. You do not provide anything

13
up

I have to laugh at all these landlords on here "providing accommodation". You outbid a young couple to buy an existing house and suddenly you're "providing". Do you put mints on the tenants' pillows every night too?

I disagree to some degree. Landlords do provide 'something' ( at various stages of many of our lives). But... if they had to complete aginst your 'young couple' to justify the investment ( say, earning a net 7% after costs etc) then I'd suggest that there'd be a lot less speculators in the market. It's the social ( "It's my retirement fund!) and taxation ( 'get the tennant and the taxman to pay it off!) distortions that have changed the landlord market in the last 40 odd years - and not for the better.

Surely you mean saved a young couple from living in a cold damp mouldy house they own and a lifetime of crippling debt, whilst simultaneously providing modern warm healthy housing for 2 young families instead (albeit after an 18 month delay)

The NZ rental stock is incredibly low quality, and an owner-occupied house will be far warmer and drier than a standard rental. Not to mention you don't get turfed out with a months notice so a landlord can charge more a la Christchurch 2011-2012.

It would be useful to quantify this discussion, try this...
https://www.branz.co.nz/cms_show_download.php?id=50335e67bb00f3e0464097b...
Yes the rental stock is worse than the owner occupied but owned properties still have problems.

Most people are unaware that cold housing increases the health risks to the inhabitants from more than just an increase in respiratory disease. Blood pressure is elevated with house temperatures below 18C, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease especially so for the elderly.

How does an owner occupier improve the quality of the house that we competed to buy by more than I did? In all likelyhood they would have just lived in the old house as is/ maybe renovated a little. By building 2 new dwellings on the site I actually believe that I improved the site more?

im a fan for demolishing old houses in fact any building that doesn't have social memories like Churches, Hotels, etc.
Most people think a house is comfortable if it is warm and dry, I would add not overcrowded.

What utter and totally disgusting crap. Too many of your class (prefessional landlords) are vultures on society! This did not sit where I thought it would so I have now added to it.

Unlike the 280,000 bludgers living on benefits. Ironic how you call people with income and investments 'vultures'.

I am a professional software developer. Playing the money game is mostly just for entertainment :). If the government designs inherently unfair rules (such as those that make 2% of tax payers pay 25% of all income tax), then it must mean that it intends for top talent of this generation to invest their efforts into finance (reallocation of money) as opposed to something more productive. Why not play the game and see how far you can get within the current rules! A flat universal tax rate would eliminate most of the ways to play the game and divert talent back to more productive enterprises. Until then just play the hand that you have been dealt, play it well and you'll likely progress faster than your peers, moan about it and even those with poorer hands will beat you ;p

I've been providing accommodation to those that can't afford to buy for 20 years. Even at the height of home-ownership (late 80s) 25% of people rented! in my experience its been speculators, financially illiterate FHBs with a large fear of missing out so pay ridiculous amounts (often with lots of encouragement for RE agents) & foreign money that pushed up prices. In my experience property investors want to buy a property at the absolute minimum possible, that way it is an investment that stacks up- its all about bottom line.

As a landlord/ property investor I have never outbid a FHB as I think auctions are a mugs game- seems the RE agents in Auckland have been raking it in with them the last few years though. All my properties have been through traditional agents- and negotiated sales. Last property I bought was 24 months ago and was an ownership unit to house my parents in so they could live off their savings rather than have it all tied up in property. That property was on the market and ANYONE could have purchased it.

Envyitis is a widespread issue in this country now.

I love the German model too. Not sure about the rent controls. But need regorous regulations. Being a landlord is a business. The landscape has changed and many more middle class.people are.renting. This is the price we pay for unaffordable house prices. We do need more security in rental periods and rises in rent could be tied to inflation or similar perhaps.

If you think the German model is great read about it here:
http://www.howtogermany.com/pages/housing.html
I especially like the fact that the Umlagen ( expenses )are the tenants concern to pay plus any increases.
From the same article:
"Unfurnished apartments here are just that: completely unfurnished. They don't have built-in cabinets, closets or even lighting fixtures. You'll often have to buy everything, perhaps even the proverbial kitchen sink! Stoves, refrigerators, kitchen cabinets, wardrobes, bookshelves, tables, beds, chairs, curtains, curtain rods, lights and everything else are your problem"
Now there is a really bright idea.

I have no problem with renting an un-furnished flat/house as long as its a choice its how I started. So I bought things and then when I bought my house, moved everything.

For the landlaord, less upfront cost, less maintenance and less hassle when tenants change I would think.

Let's see how you like buying: oven, carpets, drapes, light fittings, kitchen, heating, etc to furnish your German style apartment, I'd be more than happy to leave all that up to the tenant. How much will all that add to your initial start up costs?

Probably less than the letting Fee and bond you currently get rogered on.

Really?

New kitchen- $5-10k
carpets/flooring $4-5k
Oven: let's say $1k
Drapes + light fixtures: $1k
Heat pump or other fixed heating (no doubt compulsory under WoF rules by then): $3-4k

So you are looking at $15-20k easy to be able to move in, maybe you could get away with $5-10k if on a budget.

Rates will also be your issue to pay.

Craig

And then because you are providing less the rent will be less, allowance for tenant to pay rates and provide all the above . $600 a week becomes $400 a week.

2 year pay off on your inflated pricing.

Still drier and better quality than NZ houses.

The beauty of our looking to Germany for ideas is that we can rule in those we do like and rule out those we don't. You will probably find they sell and buy houses in similar conditions. In this country, you do have to include some chattels in the purchase such as the stove, and golly gosh if we do change our rental laws to more resemble German ones, we can include that in rentals as well.
Running scared, are we BD?

this article , like the rest of the series, started with a lie and BS and continues building on it...typical union crap:
1/2 of NZers are renting ?? really ... well the stats say 32% of households are rentals !!
http://www.communityhousing.org.nz/resources/article/number-of-renters-r.......
Everyman and his dog is out in an election year throwing around all sorts of BS ...
Open Clowns' Season ..

Whenever you read the word "progressive" you can be sure it's going to be skinny on actual facts, yet bursting with hyperbole, cliche's, stereotypes forming a narrative fiction that has to be believed to be seen.

From the 2013 Census (Statistics NZ)

"The data on home ownership by households shows that 64.8 percent of households owned their home or held it in a family trust in 2013, down from 66.9 percent in 2006. This includes households who made mortgage payments and households who did not.
The percentage of households who owned their home, excluding those whose home was in a family trust, was 49.9 percent in 2013, down from 54.5 percent in 2006.
Of those households who owned their home and specified whether they made mortgage payments, 56.4 percent (398,373 households) made mortgage payments in 2013. This was very similar to 2006 (56.5 percent or 405,267 households).
The percentage of households who reported that their dwelling was in a family trust increased, at 14.8 percent (215,280 households) in 2013, compared with 12.3 percent (167,922 households) in 2006."

What a ridiculous polemic. So many mistakes of fact. Even the link for "1600" is incorrect. When I did finally find the (dubious) research it says "About 1600 additional people die each winter, mostly from respiratory and circulatory problems and in many cases because of cold housing" and this is misused to condemn all rental housing. Another error of fact: If a tenant takes an action to the tribunal (only costs $20.44) and if they loose there is no order made to be published. So wrong again. If 95% of the tribunal orders are against tenants who don't pay their rent... who really has the power here? Profiteering property management companies? Discrimination... who needs proof or support if you can just state this rubbish as fact. I guess it is election time!

Those of us who have seen the deplorable living conditions SOME tenants live in while putting their kids through a darn unhealthy living environment know quite well ( and have witnessed) that the lack of basic hygiene, cleanliness , and ventilation education is the root cause of all respiratory and related diseases even when provided with good standard living rentals ...

Unfortunately some people don't know any better than living in the filth and waste they create like a stray dog in a house designed for humans ... and they wonder why some landlords kick them out before they cause more damage to themselves and the property! ....

Then come the Monkey brains and the clever Progressive dudes who use the misery of these illiterate people as ammunition for their own political gains to generalise and blackmail the ones who are providing the rentals, because it is always the Landlord's Fault !!!! ..... same old , same old ...!

There are enough strong civilized laws and rule in the country to ensure everyones' rights and obligations - no two sane individuals would disagree that these rules are highly inclined and more biased towards tenants than landlords ...

Enviousness and Jealousy is a Mental Illness of which a cure is yet to be found .. If Ever there was one ....!!

That would be one of your more disgusting comments, and that is saying something

More monkey brains wanting free stuff. You get what you pay, just as true for rent as anything else. Somehow the monkey brains think it is governments job to give them a luxurious house. Blaming the world for their problems, too lazy to do anything but complain.

Your comment is offensive at all kinds of levels!

Indeed, he's all class.

Taking it personally ? I wonder why.

Probably my monkey brains wanting free stuff and stuff, being too lazy and stuff and stuff, smashing Avos willy-nilly with my sky box and i-Phone and stuff and stuff. I actually find my smashed Avos even more delectable after driving over them with my new car, after I've got back from holiday and stuff and naturally of course stuff.

Not personal, just an all round offensive comment.

If people were to call all Afrikaners dim witted farm Jaapies or been kops, you might take offence too, aye?! Just because people own property doesn't mean they are hard working or particularly clever! I for one would love to see boomer landlords taxed significantly. They are the laziest people in multiple generations. Free eduction, free money to buy property, then shut the door to young Kiwis so they can have a comfortable pension. Stuff that, tax them, tax them on their capital gains in advance. My new goal is to tax on paper gains. If your house cost 100k twenty years ago and is now worth 1million, then that 900k should be taxed at 33%. Tax them I say, tax them. Also one question paashaas, wie is die sout peel nou?

Maybe you are suffering from nitrogen narcosis. I presume your name alludes to being a scuba diver. I think most divers would be extremely offended as you seem to be of the opinion that laying down a dredge and depleting and destroying the scallop beds is the best hunting practice.

I have heard all the comments about great landlords and why should there therefore not be minimum housing standards. Unfortunately there are also some landlords with cockroach infested dirty mouldy dwellings. I know it and I think it would be accepted by most people here. Housing is a basic need. An analogy is food outlets. If someone gets an E rating we don't blame the people buying there saying you get what you pay for, you shouldn't have been so stupid to purchase there etc. We shut it down till it meets.a minimum standard. We also accept that there should be a food safety benchmark. Good landlords won't be afraid of.minimum standards. There would always be room for landlords to argue generally about what should be a standard, and so be it. But I don't buy the logic that because some people in the past didn't pay their rent etc that therefore it gives landlords a free pass to offer substandard housing. Using a food analogy again, its like a food outlet justifying it's E rating because previous customers walked out without paying.

Seems fair. Just as an average person of decent character isn't afraid of WOFs for cars.

Agreed, and I as said above .. there are enough rules and laws to punish those who provide substandard accommodation and the tenancy tribunal is very strict and comes down quite hard on Landlords who do that ... landlords who do not look after their investment will eventually caught up many multiples of a year's rent in cleaning up his property because of his own wrongdoing and negligence ....
the fact remains , that these are only few numbers, unlike what the article or some other idiots like to portray ... one example that comes to mind is HNZ homes !!

cockroach infested dirty mouldy dwellings

Tenants didn't clean behind and under the stove. Tenants didn't use insecticide. Tenants never used exit-mould. Tenants never opened the windows. Tenants never tidied up or cleaned the place. Somehow this is the landlord's fault?

Craig C, agree with almost everything you have said.
Personally love auctions in Chch as I have always found that you can buy property at under market value as many people are not in a position to go unconditional on auction day.

As I said good landlords won't begrudge minimum standards.

Landlords are told that they should be subject to WOF on their housing.
It's a shame we can't put WOF on the tenants.
Landlords are accused of supplying dirty, cockroach infested housing? I would suggest every landlord cleans, paints and scrubs a vacant rental in the hope of attracting a tenant that will take pride in their home. The cockroaches usually come with the tenants. The dirt and filth is of the tenants own making.
The P contamination is the landlords problem to repair.
People love to demonize landlords but if you don't like the age or presentation of the house then don't rent it. The market sets the rent, not the landlord, a rough house in a rough street gets a low rent or is vacant. No landlord wants a vacant house.
Yes you will pay more rent for a nice house in a good street but so also did the landlord pay a larger purchase price.
If the public want to demonize and scapegoat landlords, set rental caps and make land-lording financially repressive then the state will have to step up and provide the rental housing and the taxpayer will carry the burden of paying public servants with no vested interest to manage the rental housing.
So my message to the dogooders who want to put the boot in, be careful what you wish for. A private landlord with a vested interest will always do a better job than a public servant on wages.

To your last point, that was the role of the government and should be the role of the government looking after the poorest in society. Rentals in certain situations are viable - students, new migrants, people about to move into their first house etc, social housing for the least well-off and you're looking at maybe 25-30% of a given population require/want/need rental accommodation.

If you can't see that the current game of monopoly being played by boomers and overseas speculators is affecting people in their 30s and 40s, people looking for a base to start or house their family then you are sadly deluded. I'm not envious per se, I am quite resentful though, my generation is being denied the opportunities that our parents had because a small portion of society decided they wanted to own more than they should and arguably could afford, and a government has allowed rampant overseas purchases.

The current situation where people who have never earned more than a 6 figure salary "own" on paper multi-million dollar property portfolios is absurd, bordering on farcical.

I don't see what the relevance is of people who have never earned more than a 6 figure salary. Is it not okay for such people to try and improve their financial position? I have often thought that a lot of resentment comes from people not liking the fact that common people have done good. It would be fine for "old money" or mega corporations to own property but not people like you or I. Also rental properties improve income levels because they get rent. Those people on lower salaries would be getting six figures if you add the rental income.

ZS - 'a lot of resentment comes from people not liking the fact that common people have done good.'......umm how is speculating on property prices, creating a poo load of debt, and turning young people into rent slaves 'good'?

You miss how society operates on an interdependent scale and clearly you're only in it for you and your own wealth. Buying and selling houses is a zero sum game on a national scale. You may think you're doing well, but its causing financial pain for someone else, who will then become a drag on the economy down track...(might need welfare, will have less money to spend in local business...less growth in productive businesses)..

Its quite funny that boomers (ME generation) sometimes label the younger generation as the 'ME ME ME' generation - and yet for some of the ME generation, all they seem to care about is the size of MY property portfolio and nobody changing MY superannuation at 65...Carl Jung said something along the lines of everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves...perhaps he is right...and of course vice versa...we seem to have a Mexican standoff developing between the ME generation and the ME ME ME generation...sure to be interesting....the generation of self-licking ice-cream cones vs the Instagram savvy narcissists....what could possibly go wrong..?

If you want cheaper rentals and housing, cut out foreign buyers and reduce immigration. Supply and demand will come back into balance by removing the distortions from the market.
Legislation just adds more distortions.

Well said Northland Hippy, if Government want Rental WOF's then equally a perspective tenant could have a rating from the previous rental leases makes sense.

Unfortunately I see there is quite a bit of fear around providing houses with a minimum standard. Perhaps provision of low cost social rentals should be left with the Govt. Again I can't emphasize this enough. A whole new generation of renters has joined the market. Middle class people. Their hearing renters classed as feral and not deserving of rights is both offensive and simply won't wash anymore. I think the political parties now realise their dilemma.. Either remove props to the housing market Nd let if fall, upsetting baby boomers like myself, or come up with workable and fair minimum rental standards for that growing number of renters.

This is the first article the suggests that the WOF should be like food standards. The proposed Wellington wof will fail moat houses. any colonial house with two floors fails and the bottom of window not a meter from floor. Apartments fail that don't have stoves. For ventilation if you cannot open a window it fails.
As a Wellington landlord would prefer to see a wof like the food standard with a letter system which can be displayed with a list of failed items.

The wof also needs changing to account for DVS, air conditioning and other ventilation

The more you legislate and make rules for landlords the more expensive the rental housing becomes. There are tenants who want to pay minimal rent for bottom of the market properties.
Dogooders who make rules for other people need to understand that there are the rules of cause and effect.
a free market finds its own balance. Rules and legislation upset that balance and push prices up.

One of the many frequent complaints about rental housing in New Zealand is the insecurity of tenure. While security of property occupation is one of the main benefits of home ownership, this is a benefit that many tenants in New Zealand never experience.
Contrary to common belief, landlords also face additional costs caused by insecure tenancies – high turnover can mean landlords spend more on the costs of re-letting, while having a property sit vacant while a suitable tenant is found also means actual cash is lost. Every day a property sits vacant is to me lost rent that can never be recovered.

Landlords want income security and tenants looking for stability want longer rental tenure.
But factors such as job insecurity and changing family dynamics often make it high risk for tenants to sign a long term fixed contract.

However even under the current rules and regulations the high cost of vacancies also works implicitly to enhance security for tenants as well. Tenants who prefer or require long-term accommodation may be lucky enough to find a landlord who is happy with this arrangement as professional landlords have an incentive to value and retain good tenants who are willing to pay near the going-market rent.

Landlords who manage their own properties sometimes lack the time and resources to respond to quite legitimate tenant expectations and requests. Their primary motivation was to be an investor and not to be a landlord. To some, ‘passive income’ really does mean passive.

Through involvement in property investor associations other, more motivated, people looking to invest in rental property are given advice and information on what being a landlord entails before they purchase. They are encouraged to view property investment not as ‘passive income’ but as an income stream with its own obligations.

At a recent seminar Philanthropy New Zealand promoted the idea of private investment into social housing.

However, under the current Residential Tenancy Act legislation it is unlikely that these efforts will be successful as there will be minimal return available to such investors given current rental legislation.
Contrary to public perception, residential property investment in New Zealand is a high work low margin activity. There are many requirements, obligations and restriction imposed on residential landlords which ensures that landlording is exclusively a small-scale Ma and Pa activity. While commercial landlords are often large-scale businesses running under professional management, the landlord involvement required by the RTA would make residential investment along similar lines a profit-less activity and the few commercial startups that have tried to enter the field have quite quickly failed.

We have now passed the peak in owner occupied housing, with the result that more people are spending most if not all of their lives as renters. The new rule-of-thumb is that if you are not in your own home by the age of 40 it is unlikely that you will ever become a homeowner, presumably excluding Lotto winners. So the growing numbers of elderly renters also now would also value secure tenure.

Alongside this, the RTA is written with the unspoken implication that renting is a fairly short term exercise. The traditional pattern has been that people leave the parental nest to move into rental accommodation. This rental was often either a bit trashed when they moved in, or youthful parties and rough living soon resulted in it being trashed anyway. After just a few years of living this sort of existence most people then partnered up and moved off into their own home.

Reflecting this assumption, currently under the residential Act, a landlord can offer either a periodic tenancy (which can be terminated at short notice by either tenant or landlord) or a fixed term tenancy which seems to be intended to create a finite tenancy of just one or two years. No other types of tenancies are permitted under the Act as it is now written.

I think we could offer a third option, a residential tenancy of some five or ten years duration, thus giving the tenant security of tenure. In return the tenant would be responsible for payment of all the overheads of the property (such as rates and insurance cover) in addition to their rent, and also would fit out the interior of the property with their own fixtures and fittings at the commencement of the tenancy. At the end of the tenancy the tenant would remove all of their own fixtures and fittings and return the interior of the property to the condition it was in the day they started their tenancy.

Thus those tenants would be able to decorate and redecorate their rental as and how they like, keep pets as they wish, hang pictures on the walls and even fasten mirrors to the bedroom ceiling should they be so inclined without any reference to or obligations by their landlord.

This would be in accord with the German model, of which the benefits to the tenant are frequently promoted by those of leftish views who, as they do so, seldom mention the obligations that go along with it.

I like the German model, it's akin to Commercial Property. I'd invest in a bare shell property (preferably concrete with no garden) where the tenant fitted it out and paid all outgoings in return for a very long tenancy. The only thing I'd want clarified is whether the Council could sell my property if the tenant didn't pay rates and what happens in a default/death situation e.g. does the tenant/estate own the fit-out?

I'd also want absolute certainty over taxation in case Taxinda types got in there and latched on my wallet when I had no options to void the tenancy.