Our renting regulations "suck" says New Zealand's tenant champion Shamubeel Eaqub.
The independent economist, who proudly rejects housing market investment and instead rents with his family in Epsom, told a corporate Auckland gathering yesterday morning how declining home ownership and a lack of protection measures made for an increasingly unpleasant environment for renters.
"I'm the champion renter in New Zealand but renting regulations suck. We still rent as if we're flatting," complained the author of Generation Rent - Rethinking New Zealand's Priorities, written with wife Selina Eaqub.
He encouraged those at the MinterEllisonRuddWatts and Crowe Horwath breakfast to read the book's 10-point plan to fix the rental market.
That demands changing attitudes towards tenants, more houses being built, clarifying immigration policy, improving data collection on foreign buyers and acting on that if it's proved they are fuelling housing unaffordability, increasing housing in high-demand areas, reducing the easy supply of money for housing investment, clarifying existing property tax rules, improving financial literacy and encouraging alternative forms of investment and improving the scale and productivity of the construction sector.
Eaqub's comments come after Auckland landlord Ron Goodwin wrote a Herald opinion piece, published this week, on tenants from hell. Goodwin's piece was in response to a July 18 piece by columnist Deborah Hill Cone, complaining about tenant treatment by a real estate agency.
"The rental legislation in New Zealand is biased completely in the tenants' favour but even more so when a long-suffering landlord tries to get justice out of the Tenancy Tribunal," Goodwin said.
"Take yesterday, for example. I had a telephone mediation finally scheduled after my application was filed with Tenancy Services on June 2 for a tenant who had been behind with his rent for over seven months, and was four weeks behind when I finally applied to the Tenancy Tribunal. After waiting for over six weeks, the scheduled mediator never showed up for work," Goodwin wrote.
The Ministry of Justice says the Tenancy Tribunal dealt with 19,095 applications in the 2014/2015 year, 16 per cent down on the 22,818 cases in the the previous year.
Landlords claim they bring about 70 per cent of the cases against tenants over unpaid rent.
Ministry figures showed that 16,808 were applications from landlords and 2287 were tenant applications.
One source close to the data said those figures told a story: "Contrary to what most people think that it's terrible landlords, most of it, as you see, is landlord applications."
No legislative reform is proposed for tenants but apartment dwellers and owners could see big change if recommendations of an investigation led by Auckland MP Nikki Kaye are acted on.