Tenancy changes to help ease rental housing crisis

The next National government will repeal two of Labour’s recent tenancy law changes that have decreased supply and pushed up rents, National’s Housing spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Since 2017, Labour has waged a war on landlords – with the collateral damage borne by tenants. Rents have risen by an average of $175 a week since 2017, the social housing waitlist has quadrupled to more than 23,000 and more than 3000 families live in motels.

“National has already committed to restoring interest deductibility for rental properties and restoring the brightline test to two years, down from 10 years under Labour.

“Today National is announcing that we will also reverse Labour’s removal of no-cause terminations, and the provisions which see fixed-term tenancies roll into periodic tenancies in most cases.  

“Labour’s removal in 2021 of no-cause terminations and the near-automatic rollover of fixed term tenancies into periodic tenancies may have been well intentioned, but they have backfired badly, discouraging landlords from offering their properties up for rent.

“Some landlords have simply decided that the risks are too great and have exited the rental market altogether, decreasing supply and putting upward pressure on rents.

“Queenstown provides a perfect case study of how these law changes have backfired. Around a quarter of Queenstown properties are estimated to be empty, while hundreds of people are living in cars, in tents or on couches. Many landlords who would once have offered a short-term fixed term tenancy for some months of the year have decided it is just too difficult, and instead turned to AirBnB.

“Labour’s removal of no-cause termination has hit vulnerable people particularly hard. Many landlords are now reluctant to ‘take a chance’ on tenants with poor rental histories, due to the difficulty of ending the tenancy if it doesn’t work out.

“Mum and Dad landlords aren’t the enemy in the housing market, and New Zealand needs good quality rental accommodation. National’s changes will make it easier to be a landlord, leading to an increased supply of rental properties, and helping ease Labour’s housing crisis.

“Labour was warned that their war on landlords would backfire by reducing rental supply and pushing up prices, but Cabinet pressed ahead anyway.

“National will bring back common sense. We will make further housing announcements in the coming months.”