Northland Property Investors' Association


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May Political Report from Thomas Chin

~~The following is a summary of political and regulatory news affecting the residential rental property industry.

• No effect on rents, says Labour 1/5/14 RadioNZ
• Changes to improve home ownership 2/5/14 Labour Party
• Landlords' gripes reveal perils of property 3/5/14 NZ Herald
• Fresh look for the incoming Government – 6/5/14 Labour Party
• MPs' interests in trusts & rental property – 6/5/14 Register of pecuniary interests
• Shoddy rentals fail needy 7/5/14 Marlborough Express
• National digs in on foreign ownership ban 13/5/14 Fairfax
• Rentals across NZ fail warrant of fitness 15/5/14 The Press
• Budget 2014 – 15/5/14
• There is a housing crisis in NZ - 19/5/14 Green Party
• Green Party 2014 election candidates - 25/5/14 Green Party
• Greens announce $327m investment in warm up NZ – 26/5/14 Green Party

No effect on rents, says Labour - 1/5/14 RadioNZ
The NZPIF opposes Labour's intention to ring-fence losses on property investments to stop them being offset against other income. The NZPIF argues a similar policy in Australia was abandoned after rents there went up 25 percent and a similar thing would happen here under Labour's policy. David Parker Labour's finance spokesperson said the NZPIF simply wants property investors to continue getting a tax refund paid for by other taxpayers. "I reject the idea that just because we remove a tax advantage that they've currently got somehow rents would go up.”

Changes to improve home ownership - 2/5/14 Labour Party
Labour’s Housing spokesman Phil Twyford says lower mortgage interest rates resulting from Labour’s monetary policy changes will help more New Zealanders into their own homes and make home ownership more affordable. “Moreover, Labour has a serious plan to fix the housing crisis by building 100,000 affordable starter homes for people to buy, taxing speculators through a Capital Gains Tax excluding the family home, and putting a stop to offshore speculators buying homes here”.

Landlords' gripes reveal perils of property - 3/5/14 NZ Herald
In 2013 there were 45,093 applications nationwide to the Tenancy Tribunal, of which 41,496 were from landlords. The top three issues were 27,551 applications (61.1 per cent) for rent arrears, 7,597 (16.8 per cent) for breaches of the tenancy agreement and 2,958 (6.6 per cent) for compensation for damage.

Fresh look for the incoming Government – 6/5/14 Labour Party
Labour leader David Cunliffe has reshuffled his Shadow Cabinet, promoting housing spokesman Phil Twyford to number six on the front row. Twyford was previously ranked eleventh – this also elevates the priority of the Housing portfolio for Labour.

MPs' interests in trusts & rental property – 6/5/14 Register of pecuniary interests
The latest returns in the register of pecuniary interests revealed which MPs have interests in trusts and rental property (including commercial property).

The register showed:
• 24% of MPs had rentals
• The average holding was 2.4 rentals
• 15 or 25% of National MPs declared rentals
• 11 or 32% of Labour MPs declared rentals
• National MP for Napier Chris Tremain declared 15 properties
• 63% of MPs declared a beneficial interest in a Trust

Shoddy rentals fail needy - 7/5/14 Marlborough Express
The Labour Party says Building Research Association of New Zealand research shows only 22 per cent of New Zealand's rental properties were in good condition, with 44 per cent in poor condition. It said rental homes were often cold and damp, with little or no insulation, making them an unhealthy living environment. Labour will address this problem by introducing a Healthy Homes Guarantee. All rental homes will have to meet minimum standards of insulation and heating.

National digs in on foreign ownership ban - 13/5/14 Fairfax
Housing Minister Nick Smith says Treasury research shows:
• almost 200,000 people claiming losses on rental properties, 11 per cent are non-residents.
• the level of foreign home ownership has been static since a Reserve Bank survey put it at less than 5 per cent in 2007

Nick Smith says a ban on foreign buyers is unnecessary, also the available data "suggests" the level of foreign ownership is low and that it's having no substantive impact on the market, and that making changes in those areas are not going to make a material difference for Kiwi families.

Rentals across NZ fail warrant of fitness - 15/5/14 The Press
More than 90 per cent of rental properties in a nationwide survey have failed a ''warrant of fitness'' (WOF) check. About 140 rentals across Christchurch, Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Dunedin were given the once-over by home assessment experts earlier this year.

The rental housing WOF trial aimed to test whether draft WOF checklists and methodologies were practical for landlords, assessors and tenants. About 94 per cent of the 144 houses inspected did not pass at least one of the 31 checklist items, but the majority failed on only a handful. The trial found 36 per cent would pass all of the draft WOF criteria with "just a few minor and inexpensive fixes", such as installing smoke alarms or adjusting hot-water temperatures.

In the trial:
• 40 per cent of houses did not pass the water temperature check
• 30 per cent did not have a working smoke alarm within three metres of bedrooms
• 31 per cent lacked code-compliant handrails and balustrades
• 37 per cent did not have a fixed form of heating
• 38 per cent did not pass a security-stays check.

Budget 2014 – 15/5/14
According to the Labour Party’s assessment of the Budget:
• “There is nothing to address New Zealand’s acute housing crisis
• “There is nothing for first home buyers
• “Nothing to build a single new home
• “Nothing to make rentals warm and dry
• “Nothing to stop offshore speculators driving up prices”.

However, under the Labour Party, in Government, they would:
• Build 100,000 affordable houses
• Introduce a Capital Gains Tax
• impose restrictions on offshore property speculators
• Reform monetary policy to lower interest rates, and
• Make every rental property warm and dry

Separately, the Budget provides Inland Revenue an additional $48.6 million over five years to bolster its tax compliance activities. The initiative is expected to generate nearly $300 million more in tax collections.

There is a housing crisis in NZ - 19/5/14 Green Party
The National Government’s housing crisis denial will drive home ownership even further out of reach, fuelled by the Prime Minister’s staggering ignorance of the extent of the problem, the Green Party said. “The Green Party actually has some solutions. We’ll introduce a capital gains tax on homes, other than the family home, restrict foreign ownership and build more state homes.
“Our Home for Life programme would put home ownership within reach of tens of thousands of new Zealanders by the Government building new homes, then supporting families to own them.
“And we’ll change the law so tenants have more security, and are entitled to live in a healthy, dry home,” Ms Walker said.

Green Party 2014 election candidates - 25/5/14 Green Party
The Green party has announced its list of candidates ahead of the September election. Of interest to the Federation, Housing spokesperson Holly Walker (first elected in 2011) holds her list ranking with the 12th spot. During the course of the year Walker had been the MP in charge of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation (Warm Healthy Rentals Warrant of Fitness) Amendment Bill. Based on present polling Walker is expected to return to Parliament.

Greens announce $327m investment in warm up NZ – 26/5/14 Green Party
The Green Party pledged a $327 million investment in warming up NZ homes, including a special fund of $25 million for Christchurch homes. Their policy will restore the Warm Up New Zealand insulation scheme to insulate 200,000 homes across the country at a cost of $100 million a year for three years.

Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (Lab: Phil Twyford) That every rental home in NZ meets minimum standards of heating and insulation Bill awaiting first reading expected late June 2014
State house WOF trial Minister of Housing trialling a WOF system on 500 state houses Trial results due July 2014
Building (Earthquake-prone buildings) Amendment Bill
(Nat: Maurice Williamson) Sets a requirement for buildings to be earthquake strengthened – also applies to multi-storey or multi-unit residential buildings Bill has been referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee. Submissions closed: 17 April. Committee report due: 5 September
Overseas Investment (Protection of New Zealand Homebuyers) Amendment Bill (Lab: Phil Twyford) Bans non-NZers buying residential property Bill pending ballot selection for Parliamentary debate
Energy Efficiency Conservation (Warm Healthy Rentals) Amendment Bill
(Greens: Metiria Turei) Requires that standards be in place by October 2014, that all residential rental accommodation be efficiency rated and publicly notified by 2017, and that all residential rental accommodation meets the minimum energy efficiency standards by 2019 Bill pending ballot selection for Parliamentary debate
Trusts Bill
(Nat: Judith Collins) New legislation to replace the Trustee Act 1956 (estimated 300,000 to 500,000 trusts currently operating in NZ)  Bill being developed
Other Brief description Status
Boarding house inquiry Social Services Select Committee inquiry into boarding houses (commenced July 2011) Report pending
General election Parliament will be dissolved for the General Election on 14 August Election Day: 20 Sep 2014


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