National’s responses to Renters United’s questions

September 10, 2017 8:44 pm

Renters United asked all major political parties their position on the recommendations from the Peoples’ Review of Renting. Here are the responses from the National Party. Compare all responses.

Will your party introduce a mandatory rental warrant of fitness?

Does your party have any additional policies that will contribute to our goal of “all rental housing is warm, healthy, and safe”?

Calls for a rental WOF are not new but successive Governments have concluded they are not needed as most measures are covered in other Acts, and the cost of inspections would ultimately be borne by tenants.
Significant changes to the Residential Tenancies Act have been passed under this Government to strengthen protections for tenants. These changes include the requirement to fit smoke alarms, insulation in all rental properties and the establishment of a Tenancy Compliance and Investigation Team to improve compliance with housing regulations. We also introduced additional protections against retaliatory actions by landlords when tenants raise quality concerns.

The recently introduced Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No. 2) strengthens the law for prosecuting landlords who tenant unsuitable properties and ensures tenancy laws better manage methamphetamine contamination and liability for careless damage.

Will your party limit rent rises?

NO

Will your party abolish letting fees?

NO

Will your party take a hands-on approach to the housing market to ensure adequate supply (and affordability) of all housing types?

Does your party have any additional policies that will contribute to our goal that “everyone has affordable housing”?

The key to improving affordability is increasing supply by freeing up land for development. We are currently in the middle of a building and construction boom. Our ongoing programme of reforms to the Unit Titles Act, Urban Development Authorities, Resource Management Act and the Building Act, as well as our own ambitious building programme, will ensure this strong momentum is maintained.

We are taking a hands-on approach through the Crown Building Project, under which 34,000 new houses will be built.

It’s a big commitment, but one which will see 8300 old rundown houses in Auckland replaced with 34,000 brand new purpose-built houses over 10 years, and more than 12,000 in the first three years.

This project will build 13,500 new social houses and 20,600 new affordable and market homes and will help Auckland’s most vulnerable families, along with first home buyers and the wider market.

There were also the changes in April to the Resource Management Act through the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill.

This reform was critical to addressing housing supply and affordability by making it easier, faster and less costly to create new sections. Section prices in Auckland have gone from $100,000 in 1990 to $530,000 today and are the core reason housing has become excessively expensive.

The reforms addressed this core issue by opening up land supply, reducing the time taken to get consents, reducing the cost of land subdivision and enabling the construction of infrastructure.

Will your party abolish no-fault evictions?

Does your party have any additional policies that will contribute to our goal that “people who rent are secure? They can create homes and report problems without fear of eviction”?

NO

The Government has already recognised that some tenants may be reluctant to complain for fear of eviction despite the Residential Tenancies Act prohibiting retaliatory notices.

Retaliatory notices refer to when a landlord gives a tenant notice to leave the property in retaliation for the tenant exercising his/her rights.

Previously, the Tenancy Tribunal had been able to set aside an eviction notice where it considered it has been wholly or partly motivated by the tenant exercising their rights. However, the tenant only had 14 days to make an application for this and MBIE found that tenants often pursued this option too late.

To reduce barriers to tenants exercising their rights, the Government last year strengthened retaliatory notice provisions and extending the application period from 14 to 28 days.

It also became an unlawful act for a landlord to give retaliatory notice, with a maximum penalty of $2000.

Will your party reform the Tenancy Tribunal to lower the barriers to access?

NO

National has already streamlined and sped up the process for landlords and tenants. In 2014, we made changes to the delivery of key tenancy services, including the new FastTrack Resolution service to help resolve rent arrears disputes in a fast and more efficient way.

In 2015, we launched a new tenancy services website designed to be a one-stop shop for all tenancy-related advise, information and education.

Will your party fund tenants’ education and advocacy services?

NO

Will your party require all landlords and property managers to be licensed?

Does your party have any other policies that will contribute to our goal that “people can successfully challenge illegal behaviour by landlords and property managers”?

NO

Will your party establish a Commissioner for Housing?

Does your party have any additional policies that will contribute to our goal that “the ongoing situation for people renting improves, The Tenancy Tribunal effectively upholds renters’ rights, regulations are enforced and periodically reviewed?

NO

Recent strengthening of tenants’ rights in amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act has given both tenants and landlords more surety around their tenancy agreements and ensures minimum standards are met in the areas of smoke alarms, insulation, meth testing and what constitutes a residential property.

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