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.”
Housing Minister Phil Twyford is claiming he’ll override Auckland’s Unitary Plan in spite of being unable to answer simple questions including who is going to foot the bill, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“The Unitary Plan took ten years to complete but in another case of his mouth running away with him and the Government refusing to actually do the work Mr Twyford says he is ready to override the plan while not being able to answer basic questions.
“When asked what the budget of his proposed Urban Development Authority was was Mr Twyford had to admit there isn’t one.
“And when asked whether he’ll recoup the costs of the Authority from the Auckland Council, his answer was no.
“Well if the UDA is doing work the Auckland Council should be doing then shouldn’t they be paying for it? Or will the Government once again pass the costs on to the tax payer?
“The Government is also arguing with itself. Environment Minister David Parker has previously said he plans to reverse the presumption in favour of sub-divisions which will slow down housing development and the Green Party believes the RMA is too developer friendly.
“It’s a shambles but not a surprise. Arrogantly pushing ahead with a half-baked plan which will have a real impact on the lives of Aucklanders with barely a clue as to how he’ll go about it is unacceptable.
“The National Party knows planning and consenting for land use is an important issue and that it takes too long to free up land. That’s why we’ll be putting forward our own plan for a wholesale reform of the RMA. But whatever we do it needs to be properly thought through so we don’t make the problem worse.
“Mr Twyford is so busy playing politics and shooting from the lip he’s going nowhere fast. Let’s not forget that in Opposition he was not prepared to support RMA reform, in spite of him changing his tune now.”
Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s knee-jerk and uninformed decision to reform the Residential Tenancy Act will cause renters to pay even more and won’t solve any problems, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“If Mr Twyford thinks Government price controls will stop tenants paying more for rent, he’s being naive.
“By limiting rent increases to once a year, landlords will be forced to raise rents higher and sooner, meaning tenants will actually be paying the same or more in the long run.
“If a landlord now wants to sell their property, they will have to wait 90 days, meaning settlements of sales will be extended by double.
“But if the tenant leaves the property before the 90 days is up, the landlord will end up with an empty house waiting for a buyer.
“It is not clear whether the bond can be raised at the same time as the single rent increase – so even more costs could be put on the tenant.
“On top of this the Government has a Bill currently at Select Committee that prohibits the charging of letting fees on rental properties.
“This has been criticised by the real estate industry and various stakeholders because letting fees are required for agents to work on behalf of the property owner.
“It is likely the cost of the letting fee will be passed onto the tenant in the form of higher rents – a double whammy of rent increases.
“This Government has shown how its poor policies end up costing Kiwi families – who have seen over $100 added to their weekly bills – and they’re going to wear the burden of this as well.
“It is important to strike a good balance between landlords and tenants but so far Mr Twyford’s decisions seem to result in both parties losing out.
“As usual Mr Twyford’s announcement has been made in a vacuum away from reality – he needs to start thinking about the impacts of his vague housing policies and stop loading the costs onto New Zealand families.”
Housing New Zealand’s decision to only lease houses built since 2001 will be a disappointment for many tenants, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Turning down good homes on the basis they were built prior to 2000 is a short sighted decision because we all know the best houses are not necessarily the new houses.
“What about houses that were built a few decades or even a century ago?
“New Zealand has a good variety of housing stock like the villas and bungalows built in the early 1900s that are still being well maintained today.
“It is a shame these houses are going to be ignored just because of when they were built.
“The early 2000s was when many leaky homes were built. This means it will cost more for Housing New Zealand to either fix up the leaky homes or tenants will be leased an unfit home to live in.
“In the meantime the waiting list for a house under this Government is the highest it’s ever been.
“From the many broken promises around housing already, we know Housing Minister Phil Twyford is not good on detail and it seems like he has missed the mark on this one as well.
“He needs to rethink this dopey policy, it’s not always about the age of the house, it’s about the quality of the house.”
The Government is putting New Zealand’s housing market at risk through its KiwiBuild programme, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
The REINZ report released today shows a decline in the national median house price since last month, and the Reserve Bank Governor has indicated prices could fall.
“The housing market fluctuates all the time and the Government’s KiwiBuild programme will have to adjust if the housing market falls further.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s own Cabinet paper states the Crown will take on any risk if the housing market fluctuates up or down.
This is in addition to Kiwibank’s announcement they would accept 10 per cent deposits from first home buyers.
“Accepting low deposits puts young families buying their first home through KiwiBuild at risk.
“There will be no room to move if interest rates rise or if there is a change in property values.
“If the housing market falls, the 10 per cent deposit KiwiBuild buyers will have invested will be wiped out.
“Mr Twyford shows he still hasn’t thought about the risks of banks accepting low deposits by saying those are decisions made between the prospective buyer and the bank.
“If anything goes south, buyers will be left on their own.
“Buying a house is not a one-off, done and dusted deal. First home buyers often choose a 30 year mortgage repayment term, where in that time interest rates can fluctuate dramatically making it harder to re-negotiate their fixed home loan rates.
“KiwiBuild is still lacking in detail on the massive risk the Government is putting first home buyers, the banks, the Crown and New Zealand’s housing market in.”