The Government’s claim it is striking a balance between the interests of landlords and tenants has been further rubbished in Parliament today, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“New Zealand landlords are set to lose out if the Labour-led Government goes ahead with its proposed changes to the Residential Tenancy Act.
“Under the proposed changes, landlords are limited to increasing rents once a year, they will need to give 90 days to terminate a tenancy under all circumstances, and the changes will end ‘no cause’ tenancies.
“National believes good tenants who pay their rent on time and take care of their property should have their leases protected, but these changes will make it impossible for a landlord to move out difficult tenants who trash their homes.
“Housing Minister Phil Twyford continues to miss the mark with his tenancy proposals, as he fails to look into unpaid rent.
“Persistent unpaid rent makes up about 72 per cent of total applications to the Tenancy Tribunal. But if the ‘no cause’ tenancy provision is removed landlords won’t be able to evict tenants who aren’t paying rent.
“Minister Twyford confirmed today the proposed changes will allow tenants to keep pets and make modifications. This would mean tenants would have free rein to modify their houses, including painting walls or adding as many shelves as tenants want.
“The discussion document comes on top of the prohibition of letting fees which is currently being pushed through Parliament, further restricting the rights of landlords.
“We know the changes will just drive more landlords out of the market, something we are seeing already. Trade Me has already confirmed the number of rentals on its site is down 3 per cent.
“We need to protect both landlord and tenant rights. But with these changes, it seems like tenants will be favoured well above the Mum and Dad landlords who have put their hard earned savings into an investment property.”
After several years of work the Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Bill to strengthen the management of apartments and townhouses has today been released by National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.
“We see a huge opportunity to strengthen the existing unit titles regime in areas such as pre-contract disclosure, record keeping of body corporates and better management of conflicts of interests and proxy votes”, Ms Collins says.
“The main reason for the change has been concerns around a lack of transparency and inadequacy in long term maintenance plans, and a clearer understanding of the role of a body corporate manager.
“Some estimates have the apartment sector alone worth more than $50 billion. Under investment in long term maintenance plans can result in large unexpected bills for homeowners if defects occur, or sharp rises in body corporate fees.
“Places like Auckland have seen a huge increase in unit titles. The number of multi-unit housing developments in Auckland increased from just over 15 per cent of new houses in 2010 to over 40 per cent in 2017.
“A refined governance, management and planning structure will ultimately lead to more quality housing through improved long term maintenance plans and boost the confidence of first time buyers.
“Nikki Kaye, alongside property and legal experts, produced a report for the last National Government and a discussion paper was subsequently released which forms the basis of this law. National had committed to ensure the legislation would be progressed if we were in Government,” Ms Collins says.
The Bill aims to:
- Improve the information disclosure regime to prospective buyers of units
- Strengthen the governance arrangements in relation to the body corporate, the entity responsible for the management and operation of a unit title complex (owner)
- Increase the professionalism and standards of body corporate managers
- Ensure planning and funding of long-term maintenance projects is adequate and proportionate to the size of the complex concerned.
“The law distinguishes between unit title complexes based on their size so smaller complexes can either be excluded or can opt-out of some compliance obligations. The legislation aims to strike a balance between the benefits of additional compliance requirements with any potential costs,” Ms Kaye says.
“Earlier this year Judith and I met with Housing Minister Phil Twyford where we confirmed we would draft a Bill, and we have now written to the Minister asking the Government to adopt the legislation. If the Government chooses not to adopt the law the Bill will be lodged as a Private Members Bill in Judith’s name.
“As a result of some of these issues, disputes have arisen without accessible and affordable resolutions – the Bill seeks to reduce dispute costs and improve the accessibility of mediation.
“We want to reduce homeowner disputes in multi-unit dwellings and help support easier resolutions.
“For most people their home is the largest asset they have so when things go wrong there can be devastating and life-long impacts.
“Through our discussions with apartment owners, property and legal organisations, including body corporate chairs, we know there is huge support for law reform in this area.
“We will work hard to ensure this law reform is progressed,” Ms Kaye says.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford has once again failed to credit the National Party for his latest plagiarised announcement of thermal upgrades for homes in the Hutt Valley, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“In July last year, the National Government announced Housing New Zealand would retrofit 383 homes with new kitchen and bathroom upgrades, insulation, and new heating to help bring them up to modern standards.
“This was part of a wider significant project to build and refurbish over 700 homes in the Hutt Valley.
“Mr Twyford is consistently re-announcing National Government initiatives under the Labour-led Government banner, and today he’s doing it again.
“It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the Minister has realised National’s comprehensive housing plan was on the right track, and he is now pinching it and re-badging it as his own.”
The Government needs to start crediting the National Party as Housing Minister Phil Twyford once again plagiarises a previous National Government housing announcement, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“This infrastructure funding is definitely not new. It was announced by the previous National Government in July last year.
“This isn’t the first time Mr Twyford has had trouble coming up with new ideas. Despite claiming in Opposition he had the answer to New Zealand’s housing woes, he has chosen to copy and paste another National announcement.
“In July 2017 National announced that $300 million of new funding provided through the Housing Infrastructure Fund to unlock new housing developments in Auckland's north-west via investment in transport, wastewater and stormwater projects.
“Today Minister Twyford has announced the $339.2 million to support around 7000 homes in Auckland’s northwest.
“Spot the difference.
“The Minister’s latest announcement will deliver 3500 fewer homes for $39.2 million more than what National announced last year.
“National had a comprehensive housing programme underway. We were on track to build nearly 200,000 houses over the next six years and more houses were being built faster.
“National’s policies were addressing land supply, supporting infrastructure and helping first home buyers with a deposit and loan through National’s HomeStart Scheme.
“Considering Mr Twyford has previously criticised the effectiveness of the Housing Infrastructure Fund and that his own colleague Andrew Little dismissed it as a ‘piecemeal policy which had not been thought through’, I am shocked that Mr Twyford is trying to take credit for the fund today.”
Housing Minister Phil Twyford needs to explain why taxpayers are compensating people for breaking the law, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“The fact is the previous National Government acted on the best available expert advice. We repeatedly questioned that advice but it remained - it was unsafe to put people in a house which had been used for smoking methamphetamine.
“Housing New Zealand took the matter so seriously it took precautions whenever tradespeople or tenancy managers needed to enter these houses. What responsible Government would put a family in there? Is the Government saying it would have ignored that advice?
“Embattled Housing Minister Phil Twyford has tried to turn what the experts at the time said was a health and safety issue into a political one and he’s desperately slinging mud and money in a bid to take pressure off himself.
“Housing New Zealand did not evict tenants purely for the level of contamination of methamphetamine if it couldn’t be proved they were responsible - those tenants had to have broken their tenancy in some other way. Otherwise they would have been re-housed.
“Mr Twyford has decided to compensate people for being moved out of their state house for breaking the law or their tenancy agreement. He’s paying out millions of dollars including to people who were smoking or cooking P in state houses while deserving, law-abiding families waited on the waiting list.
“There might have been cases where people were unfairly removed. If that’s the case they should be compensated and Housing New Zealand management should answer for it. But it defies belief all 800 households were evicted unfairly. If they broke the law, or their agreement and were smoking P in their state house they should not receive money from the taxpayer.
“No responsible Government would ignore expert advice when it came of the health and safety of vulnerable children.”
Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s pet KiwiBuild scheme is a broken project with banks not lending to prospective KiwiBuild home buyers due to their shoebox sizes, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Last week Mr Twyford announced the Onehunga project to great fanfare, but now the developer has realised Mr Twyford’s proposals don’t add up and is trying to increase the size of their studio apartments.
“Stairwells and hallways will have to be extended to try and push the studio apartments to 40 square metres, from 38 square metres which is slightly bigger than the average New Zealand garage.
“I warned Mr Twyford in April that banks would be unlikely to lend more than 50 per cent of the value of the property for studio dwellings.
“When I raised this issue the Minister said ‘he was hammering out details’ with banks and would have a solution ‘within a few months’ to change their lending criteria. That was in April. It seems like those talks haven’t gone well.
“Prospective KiwiBuild buyers who have put their name down for a home have confirmed to me that the banks will just not lend any money to them on studio apartments or houses of this size.
“The six KiwiBuild studio apartments priced from $380,000 at Onehunga is probably not what Kiwi families aspired to when buying their first home. And that’s not even including the extra $45,000 for a carpark.
“Furthermore, the Minister confirmed three-quarters of prospective KiwiBuild home buyers in Auckland want homes with 3-4 bedrooms.
“The hapless Mr Twyford has really missed the mark on this one with these tiny houses. Kiwi families deserve a home, not a measly studio apartment only big enough for a single person and their cat.”
Despite almost a year in Government, and six years since the announcement of KiwiBuild, New Zealanders are increasingly confused with the changing detail around Labour’s flagship housing policy, National’s spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Six years ago Labour promised they would build 10,000 homes a year by the end of their first term in office under its KiwiBuild policy. Today Mr Twyford once again walked back his policy when he admitted KiwiBuild will only deliver 5000 homes a year by the 2020 election.
“KiwiBuild needs to have already built 216 homes to keep on track to the Minister’s 1000 homes in the first year target, but with only 18 completed its clear the KiwiBuild pipedream has descended into a farce.
“KiwiBuild has consistently changed:
- In November 2012, it was 100,000 three-bedroom standalone homes costing under $300,000 each.
- In 2013, it had become two-bedroom townhouses for $300,000 and up to $550,000 for standalone four-bedroom houses.
- In 2014, Mr Twyford was saying two-bedroom terraced houses for $360,000.
- During the 2017 election Mr Twyford was saying terraced houses would not cost more than $500,000
“But now in Government, as Minister he has said $650,000 for terraced houses.
“Mr Twyford is clearly worried that even his new price is not realistic. That’s why he sought permission to further increase the cap without asking having to ask his pesky Cabinet colleagues.
“When Labour was last in Government, they announced a 1600-home development at Hobsonville 2002, but by 2008 had no planning approved, no resource consents, no infrastructure built nor a single house constructed.
“If they couldn’t build 1600 houses in six years, how can they promise 10,000 a year under KiwiBuild?
“Instead Mr Twyford continues to reannounce National’s housing projects.
“Mr Twyford continues to exhibit the indecision and lack of detail the rest of his Labour-led Government shows. He has had years in Opposition to come up with a comprehensive housing policy to implement, but all we’ve seen is broken promises.”
Even Housing Minister Phil Twyford has low expectations of his own KiwiBuild programme, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“In Opposition Mr Twyford claimed that he would build 100,000 homes for just $2 billion.
“That is a ratio of just $20,000 a house. The only way $2 billion can fund 100,000 houses is if money gets recycled back into the fund as houses are sold.
“In Parliament today Mr Twyford said he only expected projects to ‘wash their own face’ – which means the $2 billion would need to completely recycled every three months in order to deliver 100,000 houses in 10 years.
“That means there is just a three month time frame covering investment, building and settlement.
“That is so unrealistic it is clear that KiwiBuild is a KiwiFail. Tell him he’s dreaming.
“Meanwhile, Hobsonville Land Company chief executive Chris Aiken said the cost of the Mt Roskill Redevelopment project alone would be $4 billion, and will eventually break even.
“It is highly likely taxpayers will be asked for more money, or the KiwiBuild target will be missed, most likely both.
“Mr Twyford is dreaming if he thinks he can deliver 100,000 homes for $2 billion when one housing development for 10,000 homes will cost $4 billion.
“That is so far from believable, it’s laughable.”
You can’t live in one of Labour’s tricky press releases, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“The Labour Party spent years in Opposition whipping up a frenzy over a ‘housing crisis’ it claimed needed an immediate fix and that it had the magic bullet – its flagship Kiwibuild policy.
“Like the rest of his Government, Housing Minister Phil Twyford made huge promises he simply can’t fulfil.
"To look like he is doing something Mr Twyford is simply continuing National’s policies.
“The Auckland Housing Programme and the Crown Building Project were National initiatives aimed at increasing the supply of housing. Our housing policies were supporting the building of 30,000 homes a year - as part of the most significant residential boom in New Zealand’s history.
“I do welcome that fact that Mr Twyford is now a convert to the Tamaki Redevelopment model that he campaigned against in Opposition.
“My Twyford used to say in Opposition that you can’t live in an announcement. Instead of another photo opportunity at something that would have happened anyway, the Minister needs to get on with the job of reforming the RMA so more housing developments can get underway.”
Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson’s idea for an enforceable warrant of fitness for rental homes means she would rather see people live on the streets than with a roof over their heads, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
Ms Davidson told Newshub Nation that if a landlord doesn’t pass a warrant of fitness, that home will not be able to be rented out.
“The Greens are clearly fine with a drop in the supply of rental accommodation so she can grab a headline.
“Most landlords are mums and dads who are doing their best for their tenants. If it becomes too expensive to lease accommodation, then they’re likely to sell up, reducing the supply of rental housing.
“Housing New Zealand’s waiting list for eligible state housing tenants has reached a record-breaking 8500 – the highest it has ever been in this country’s history.
“Instead of the Greens proposing solutions to address this, Ms Davidson announces a policy that will see more people living in cars and motels.
“It is important to strike a good balance between landlords and tenants, but this announcement has been made in a vacuum away from reality.
“National made significant changes to our tenancy laws that are ensuring warmer, drier and safer homes for the one million New Zealanders who live in rental properties. Our policies are making sure that 500,000 homes are retrofitted with insulation - compared to fewer than 50,000 under the previous Labour Government.
“The Greens need to start thinking about the impacts of vague feel-good policies and stop loading the costs onto New Zealand families.”