More misery for landlords

Stuff?reports that the government has a whole new raft of proposals for rental properties that are just going to make life harder for landlords. As if the lot of the average landlord is not hard enough.

I think it is important here to acknowledge that landlords in popular and expensive places such as Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Queenstown are probably going to be fine with it all. Yes, the improvements will cost them, and improvements such as insulation are not always tax deductible, but chances are, in these areas, landlords will be able to recover the cost in additional rents. But this is not true for landlords in areas where rentals are cheaper, and this must be becoming a real problem by now.

But anyway. quote:

Rental properties will have to be warmer and more weather tight under proposed minimum standards.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford revealed the proposed standards?in Wellington on Tuesday, saying they were designed to eradicate the tens of thousands of health complaints resulting every winter from “damp, cold and mouldy” rental homes. end quote.

Honestly, I thought we had already dealt with this. A minimum standard of insulation is required from July next year, which is intended to solve the problem of? ‘damp, cold and mouldy’ rental homes. At some point though, the person living in the house has to take some responsibility for the damp, cold and mould, surely?

Not if this government has its way. quote:

The proposed regulations, which will be open for public consultation until October 22, set minimum requirements for heating, insulation, ventilation, draught stopping, and moisture and drainage.

Twyford said the new regulations aimed to redress the imbalance between landlords and renters, which often resulted in renters being reluctant to raise housing issues with landlords. end quote.

I guess it depends on where you live, but many tenants do not wish to raise issues with landlords because it may well result in a rent increase. Then again, it could be that some of these issues could be dealt with by the tenant themselves. Like ventilation, cleaning away mould and providing their own heaters. But no. quote:

The proposals come on the back of the Government’s Healthy Homes Guarantee Act passed in December.

They will require all landlords to bring their rental properties up to the new health standards, except where those improvements are not practical.

Landlords who did not comply with the new standards could face a $4000 fine issued by the Tenancy Tribunal. end quote.

Yes, and if it is the same as the fine for not having the required level of insulation, which applies from July next year, the $4000 fine will be paid over to the tenant.?So the tenant has no good reason not to dob in their landlord. None whatsoever.

And it gets worse.?RNZ?reports that the Greens want a system of compulsory warrants of fitness on rental properties. quote:

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says landlords should be required by law to ensure the homes they rent are fit to live in.

Under a proposed warrant of fitness scheme, rentals would have to be approved by independent inspectors to ensure they were warm, dry, and healthy.

Ms Davidson said that if a home did not meet basic health standards, it ought not to have been rented.

“There should be no home for rent in New Zealand that is not up to standard,” she said.

“So making sure it is warm, dry, ventilated … and making sure it can be easily heated.”

That included having a minimum warmth rating of 18 degrees Celsius, Ms Davidson said.

Homes would also have to be fully plumbed, and be equipped with “basic facilities”.

Ms Davidson said that while most landlords understood these necessities needed to be met, some just did not care.

“Those landlords that are actually exploiting people for rent and renting out unsafe and unfit homes … there needs to be standards and there needs to be an enforcement of bringing those homes up to scratch,” she said.

“And so at the moment, we know that this isn’t always happening.”

Ms Davidson said it was disgraceful that more than 40,000 children were admitted to hospital each winter because their homes were not properly warm and dry. end quote.

Here’s a thought, Marama. How many more children will be admitted to the hospital after these regulations have been implemented because they are now sleeping in cars?

Some landlords are not going to be able to afford this. As I said before, in some of the poorer areas, where rents are relatively cheap, there is no chance of a landlord recovering the cost of improvements within the foreseeable future.

But now that landlords in those areas are faced with possible fines, many will have no option but to give their tenants notice to leave.

Maybe they will be able to do the necessary maintenance over time, but the rental property will have to remain empty until then.

Maybe they will simply have to sell up.

So this group of policies is actually going to make it harder for tenants to remain housed at all and that makes no sense.

It is my firm belief that the endgame of this type of government policy is to make ‘rich prick’ landlords look like the bad guy. And yes, there are slum landlords out there.

Slum landlords tend to charge less rent for their properties, which sometimes is all that people can afford.

Living in a rental property is becoming very expensive these days. Very soon, people on low incomes will not be able to afford to live in a private rental, thanks to stupid rules like this.

But, in the meantime, with close to 9000 families on the waiting lists for Housing New Zealand accommodation, the problem is not going to go away.

So – if it was you – which would you choose? To live in a house with inadequate insulation or to live in your car?

I know which way I would go. But the trouble is, very soon, it simply will not be an option. It will be the car or nothing. Quote.

 

PROPOSED RENTAL HOUSING STANDARDS

HEATING

Indoor temperature:

Option 1 – heaters able to maintain a temperature of at least 18 degC in applicable rooms

Option 2 – heaters able to maintain temperature of at least 20 degC

Heating devices:

Option 1 – landlords required to provide fixed heating devices only

Option 2 – landlords required to provide fixed and portable heating devices

Heating locations:

Option 1 – Heating provided in living room

Option 2 – Heating provided in bedrooms and living room

INSULATION

Minimum ceiling and underfloor insulation level:

Option 1 – no change from 1978 standard for existing insulation and 2008 Building Code standard for new installations

Option 2 – 2001 Building Code standard for existing insulation and 2008 Building Code standard for new installations

Option 3 – 2008 Building Code standard for existing and new insulation

Insulation degradation levels:

Option 1 – 30 per cent reduction classed as unreasonable

Option 2 – 10 per cent reduction classed as unreasonable

VENTILATION

Appropriate ventilation method:

Option 1 – No change: At least one window in all bathrooms, sufficiently-sized windows in other habitable rooms and adequate ventilation in non-habitable rooms

Option 2 – Openable windows in living room, dining room, kitchen, and bedrooms – unless exemption applies and bathrooms have extractor fan

Option 3 – Same as option two, plus extractor fan in rooms with indoor cooktop

MOISTURE AND DRAINAGE

Option 1 – No change: efficient drainage for removal of stormwater, surface water and ground water; gutters and drains to remove roof water; adequate ventilation to prevent floor dampness

Option 2 – addition of subfloor ground moisture barrier (81 per cent of rental homes do not have these)

DRAUGHT STOPPING

Option 1 – No change: Walls and ceilings sheathed, plastered, rendered and maintained; no crevices, holes or depressions in floor

Option 2 – Unused fireplaces and chimneys and gaps or holes bigger than three millimetres to be blocked

 

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