Further steps needed to unlock Build-to-Rent

Labour has finally heeded the calls of many in the housing sector to make it easier for Build-to-Rent houses to be developed in New Zealand, but more needs to be done to unlock its true potential, National’s Housing spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“The changes proposed by the Government today are welcome, but they don't go nearly far enough,” Mr Bishop says.

“It has taken the Government five years to come up with a plan for the Build-to-Rent sector, and all they have done is exempt it from a new tax they themselves introduced.

“For the Build-to-Rent sector to be truly transformational, further changes are needed in the Overseas Investment Act and the Income Tax Act, which investors point to as a significant barrier.

“Nearly a year ago, National wrote to the Minister of Housing, Megan Woods, inviting her to take up my Boost Build-to-Rent Housing Bill as a matter of public business. Instead, they wasted months hosting endless workshops and talk-fests, and still proposed a plan that is watered down from National’s proposal.

“Labour can still go further, and help Build-to-Rent housing get off the ground by adopting my members’ bill.

“My Boost Build-to-Rent Housing Bill, addresses two key barriers:

  1. First, it would exempt Build-to-Rent developments from some aspects of the Overseas Investment Act 2005 in the same way as retirement villages, rest homes, and student hostels.
  2. Second, the Bill would ensure the Built-to-Rent properties are treated as a commercial building for the purposes of the Income Tax Act 2007

“Build-to-Rent developments are an important part of housing markets in countries we like to compare ourselves too, such as the United Kingdom and Australia. It’s time New Zealand made itself more welcoming to this sort of investment as well, but the Government’s proposal only goes part of the way to truly unlocking this sector.

“Labour’s muddled thinking is holding back new housing. National would go further by removing all of the significant barriers to Build-to-Rent housing, not just the barriers Labour created themselves.”