A man who bought a rundown, vandal-hit Rotorua house and then spent $60,000 doing it up, is decrying a Government plan to force landlords to give reasons for tenancy terminations.
Michael Burge showed social media before-and-after photographs of his home where the kitchen was wrecked, lewd images were spraypainted on walls and fittings, personal items were strewn throughout rooms and holes smashed in wall linings.
He bought knowing the place was uninhabitable after lack of repairs when previous tenants lived there, then what he suspects were youngsters deliberately vandalising it.
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The tenants moved out late last year, then the vandals "ransacked" it within a few days, leaving tags behind. High meth contamination readings were discovered throughout the house, Burge said.
"I had to spend $60,000 to bring it back to a rentable standard," Burge said.
"It's now a beautiful home. What I'm worried about is the Government proposal to change the law to stop landlords from giving no-cause terminations. As long as people pay the rent and don't wreck their places, they can rent from me as long as they like.
"But it's situations where they abuse the property or don't pay the rent that I'm worried about. The law change could make it so much more difficult for people like me.
"If this comes in, people who own the asset will have so much less control over them. It pushes this society towards being one where no one has got any responsibility for what they do, including damage to houses."
Last year, the then-Housing Minister Phil Twyford released a discussion paper outlining a Government plan to amend the Residential Tenancies Act and to outlaw no-cause terminations.
"The possibility of a no-cause termination can be stressful for those tenants who want a stable home. Knowing their tenancy can be terminated at any time could lead tenants to worry about raising concerns about the condition of the property, seeking repairs, or exercising other rights under the RTA. A tenant has no right to appeal a no-cause termination to the Tenancy Tribunal unless they believe their landlord has terminated their tenancy in response to them exercising their rights under the RTA [for example, by asking the landlord to undertake repairs]. However, some tenants might not be aware they can do this, or they might find the process difficult or intimidating," the discussion paper said.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment sought written submissions. Twyford said renting was a lifelong reality for some 589,000 households.
Andrew King, NZ Property Investors' Federation executive officer, has also objected to the changes.
"Imagine living next door to loud, obnoxious and potentially violent neighbours. If they were tenants then you might expect their landlord to do something about it and protect you," King said.
"Right now, their landlord could end the tenancy with a 90-day notice which means you wouldn't have to put yourself potentially at risk by providing evidence of the tenant's bad behaviour."
But the proposed changes would demand landlords state why they are ending a tenancy and prove it at the tribunal, King said.
It was already hard for landlords when tenants behaved badly and the new proposal would make it even harder, potentially impossible. Only 3 per cent of tenancies are ended each year through a 90-day notice, he said.
"Nearly half of these notices were issued for antisocial behaviour and disturbing neighbours. This means the proposal will only protect the 3 per cent of tenants who are behaving badly, upsetting their neighbour's lives. Although a small percentage of the tenant population, this amounts to around 16,500 tenants around New Zealand causing problems," he said.
Most tenants were decent people who respected others but no one wants to live next to people causing serious anti-social problems, he said.
"In my experience, if the affected neighbours are tenants then they prefer to move rather than risk arguments or threats by standing up for their rights. Moving isn't so easy for homeowners, however, and why should good people be forced to move because of the poor behaviour of others?"
He cited examples where entire streets complained about tenants and cited Housing New Zealand stock, saying loud parties, intimidating behaviour and cars speeding up and down at all hours caused deep distress.
If private landlords were barred from no-cause terminations, neighbouring tenants could suffer, King said.