Landlords are the new "lepers of society" and proposed new rental laws are part of "a sustained attack" on them, Tauranga property owners say.
But tenant advocacy groups say the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill needs to go further to protect tenants, particularly those in social and state housing and domestic violence victims.
The bill, announced late last year, proposes removing landlords' rights to end a tenancy for no cause and limits them to one rent increase per year.
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It also gives tenants the right to make minor changes to rental properties, such as adding brackets to secure furniture and appliances against earthquakes, baby-proofing properties, installing visual fire alarms and doorbells, and hanging pictures.
Submissions on the bill closed late last month and have been published and publicly released by the Social Services and Community Select Committee this month.
Tauranga man Paul Schultz has been a landlord for more than 25 years.
He wrote to the committee saying there were "endless articles of negligent landlords/property managers" creating a "hostile environment" for them.
"Careless tenants have now become emboldened and consider the damage they do as normal wear and tear."
Schultz wrote he wasn't hopeful his submission would be acknowledged.
"But what else can the new lepers of society do as we see our rights being undermined?"
Fellow landlord Anthony Cranston wrote a similar submission.
"All the proposed changes disadvantage the landlord. At a time when there is a rental shortage, the Government has decided on an all-out and sustained attack on the people who provide rental property."
He believed the Government was "intending to make it more difficult or outright impossible in some cases to run a business letting out properties".
Community housing provider Accessible Properties, which has 1140 former Housing New Zealand homes in Tauranga, supported some parts of the bill but also suggested changes.
It said the Tenancy Tribunal needed more powers to end tenancies when landlords couldn't, specifically when there was a relationship breakdown between the tenant and landlord that could not be remedied or when the health and safety of neighbours, the public and landlord's employees and agents were put at risk by a tenant's actions.
Tauranga Housing Advocacy Trust trustee Carol Heena commended the Select Committee and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for the "thoroughness" of the reforms but said they needed to be clearer.
On behalf of the trust, she recommended rental properties have a fit-for-purpose endorsement from an independent agency, such as the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment or an agency set up within the local council before a tenancy agreement was signed.
She said tenants were reluctant to ask landlords for items to be fixed "for fear of being given notice" and the agency had seen "an increasing change in attitude" from landlords.
"Landlords look at tenants as mortgage payers instead of treating tenants as part of a business investment."
She said many people found it difficult to negotiate the forms and online processes in rental agreements.
"Some are illiterate ... This causes a barrier for such people who can end up in trouble because they have not been able to help themselves."
The trust works closely with the Baywide Community Law Service, whose lawyers also wrote to the committee.
They supported the bill but said it needed to better protect people without secure housing, or in social housing, boarding houses, transitional or emergency housing.
"Every day we see the impacts of poor housing quality and insecure tenure on health and wellbeing, and we are acutely aware of the huge difficulties tenants face in asserting their legal rights," they wrote.
"Tenants are easily replaceable, while a place to live in is not."
They said explicit provisions protecting family violence survivors were urgently needed.
The lawyers suggested allowing victims of family violence to "easily exit tenancies" to leave violent situations, without having to pay compensation to landlords.
They suggested survivors be made exempt from paying for property damage caused by violence.
Lastly, the service's submission called upon the committee to make sure tenants remained anonymous in published Tenancy Tribunal decisions.
The Salvation Army's submission was "generally very supportive" of the bill.
It cited "significant increases" in average weekly rents across the country, listed in its State of the Nation 2020 report.
The report released in February showed in Greerton average weekly rents for three-bedroom homes had gone up from $328 to $460 between 2014 and 2019, an increase of more than 40 per cent.
The Social Services and Community Committee's report, summarising written submissions, is due by June 22.
In the meantime, the Government late last month announced measures to prevent homelessness during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It put a freeze on rent increases for an initial period of six months, and brought in tenant protections against no-cause terminations for an initial period of three months, starting on March 26.
The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill
• Removes landlords' rights to end a tenancy for no cause.
• Limits landlords to one rent increase per year.
• Gives tenants the right to make minor changes to rental properties.
• Requires landlords to facilitate ultra-fast broadband installation.