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Twyford sets sights on 'making life better for renters' in proposed overhaul

Monday 27th August 2018

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Housing Minister Phil Twyford wants to make "life better for renters" by making it harder for landlords to evict tenants without cause and imposing restrictions on how often rents can be raised. 

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment wants feedback on proposals to change the Residential Tenancies Act, which Twyford wants to help "ensure rental houses are warm and dry, and to make renting more stable and secure". Those proposals include dropping no-cause terminations and extending notice periods for ending periodic agreements to 90 days from 42 days. The government is also considering limiting rent increases to one-a-year, from the current six-monthly setting, and whether to ban rental bidding. 

"Our tenancy laws are antiquated and don’t reflect the fact that renting is now a long-term reality for many of our families. A third of all New Zealanders now rent,” Twyford said in a statement. "Insecure tenure can forcer families to continually move house. This is particularly tough on children whose education suffers when they have to keep changing schools."

New Zealand's imbalance between supply and demand for housing has helped push house prices to record levels, especially in Auckland, where the shortfall was most acutely felt. Trade Me data last week showed Auckland and Wellington rents remained high through winter. 

Prices for New Zealand rentals rose 2.5 percent in the June quarter from a year earlier, accelerating from a 2.1 percent pace in June 2017, and outpacing the 1.5 percent increase in consumer prices, Statistics New Zealand figures show. At the same time, the price for new housing rose 3.9 percent, slowing from an annual increase of 6.4 percent in June 2017. 

Twyford said he wants feedback on making it easier for tenants to make small modifications to a property, making it easier to have pets in a rental, and giving MBIE greater enforcement powers. MBIE also seeks submissions on whether extra monitoring of boarding houses is warranted. 

"We want to strike a balance between providing tenants with security of tenure and allowing them to make their house a home, while protecting the rights and interests of landlords," Twyford said. 

Submissions are open until Oct. 21. 


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