Monday, September 04, 2017

Sticking up for generation rent

Last month, the People's Review of Renting recommended a wholesale reform of our tenancy laws, including the abolition of no-cause termination, limiting rent increases, banning letting fees, and requiring all homes to be warm and healthy. Now Labour has adopted the bulk of their recommendations:

Labour is promising to strengthen the rights of renters by limiting rent rises to once a year and increasing landlords' notice periods to 90 days.

It is also planning to abolish "no-cause" tenancy terminations and require a formula for increases to be set in tenancy agreements, so that tenants know what to expect.

Letting fees would be banned.

​Labour leader Jacinda Ardern - who announced the plan at a home in Henderson, Auckland, on Sunday - said the moves would make renting a more stable and healthy experience for families,

Good. National's housing bubble has locked a generation of kiwis out of home ownership, forcing them to rent for their entire lives. Meanwhile, our tenancy laws are predicated on tenants being young and mobile, like students, rather than families in need of a long-term secure home. Its long past time they were reformed. As for the Property Investors Federation's squealing on Radio NZ News this morning that this would force landlords to sell up, or stop them from becoming landlords in the first place, again, again good. Part of our housing crisis is caused by greedy Boomers hoarding houses so they can suck rent out of the rest of us while waiting for tax-free capital gains. If they sell, then that's more homes young New Zealanders can buy. We're also far better off without bad landlords, and if this drives them out of the market, good.

Obviously, this isn't a full solution to the housing crisis - we need capital gains taxes and an engineered price crash as well. But its a start, and it will help. Meanwhile, if your landlord does as this dick suggests and tries to threaten you into voting to protect them, complain to the Electoral Commission. Threatening anyone over their vote is a serious crime, with a penalty of two years imprisonment, a $40,000 fine, and removal from the electoral roll for three years. Its an abuse of our fundamental democratic rights, and landlords or employers who do it need to go to jail.