Property editor of the NZ Herald

Home Truths: NZ landlords face triple whammy - good news for tenants

Gary Lin, an Auckland landlord aged 32 who has 11 rental properties. Photo / Nick Reed
Gary Lin, an Auckland landlord aged 32 who has 11 rental properties. Photo / Nick Reed

New Zealand landlords are doing it tough, suffering a triple whammy of events lately.

A recent court ruling has found them liable for damage tenants cause, the Government is toughening rules on safety and insulation - and now rents nationally rose just a meager $10 a week in the March year.

That is, however, potentially good news for tenants whose weekly outgoings are staying relatively stable, who will should be both safer and warmer due to Government moves and who now have a significant court ruling in their favour.

Gary Lin, an Auckland landlord aged 32 who has 11 rental properties, said he was unconcerned about the triple whammy.

"But what does worry me is meth — I haven't had a problem but I do have a good property manager who looks after the places well," he said.

All his properties have smoke alarms but not all are insulated up to new standards that will be required in the next three years.

But Lin says he has contacts in the building sector so he can source materials - he also plans to ask his father-in-law to help him upgrade insulation in those places that need it soon.

His Auckland rents are only up about $20 a week over the past year, yet he is not worried about that.

"They're all self-servicing," he said, referring to his outgoings and expenses being covered by his rental income.

It's not an easy time to be a landlord, particularly one who has bought a rental property recently as they won't be getting the assistance they want with their mortgage.
Nigel Jeffries, head of Trade Me Property

The Court of Appeal recently said tenants who damaged rental properties were not necessarily liable to pay for that, following a case where AMI sought $216,000 from tenants over a fire-damaged home. The High Court had previously ruled that tenants were liable but the appeal court overturned that.

Nigel Jeffries, head of Trade Me Property, said the national median weekly rent across the country last month was $430, unchanged from February and up only $10 a week compared to a year ago, he said.

"It's not an easy time to be a landlord, particularly one who has bought a rental property recently as they won't be getting the assistance they want with their mortgage. Of course tenants will be happy because they're seeing very stable rents in most parts of the country," Jeffries said.

Nick Smith, Building and Housing Minister, said this week that 180,000 rental properties would be warmer and drier with the new insulation standards and 120.000 homes would be safer due to smoke alarms becoming mandatory.

Landlords have until July 1 this year to put smoke alarms in the properties they own. But they get more time to fit insulation: that's not due till July 1, 2019.

Jeffries said Auckland tenants were facing higher rent increases than those elsewhere in New Zealand.

The annual Auckland rent rise for the March year was $20/week and now stands at a median of $500/week.

But just as the "halo effect" is cited with property sales, so it is now in force in the rental market, Jeffries said, citing rent rises in the Bay of Plenty up 17.6 per cent annually, Waikato up 12.5 per cent and Northland up 9.5 per cent.

Auckland rents only rose 4.2 per cent annually, Jeffries said.

Christchurch rents fell 15.2 per cent, Gisborne was down 10.7 per cent and Taranaki rents fell 5.4 per cent.

- NZ Herald

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