Either rent the house or rent the money. The personal benefit of either decision is usually based on where each of us is at in life.
It's inevitable that more and more people will rent throughout their adult lives, which goes against New Zealanders' use of home ownership as a unique gauge of personal success. Elsewhere in the world, generation upon generation rent their homes, without incurring the scorn that New Zealand society seems to place on renters.
What's different there? The fundamentals lie in the security of tenure, supported by a stronger expectation of tenants' and landlords' rights and responsibilities.
To create the enormous shift in attitude that is to make renting secure, acceptable for responsible and wealthy families, we need a helping hand from modernized tenancy agreements.
At the moment the provisions of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) underpin all tenancy agreements. The problem is, the current RTA gives little security to either tenant or landlord in terms of tenure.
Tenants need to feel as if their rental really is a place to call home while they are there. Along with that comes flexibility to decorate, feel secure that (provided they meet their obligations under the tenancy agreement) they cannot be given short-term notice.
This security, however, is balanced with some responsibilities. For example, USA tenancy agreements include the need for tenants to organize and pay for all repairs under $150. The property is to be handed back to the landlord in the same state of repair it was rented.
On the flip side the landlord needs to give tenants the opportunity to settle down without the potential for a tenancy to be terminated with as little as 45 days notice.
The common culture of using periodic tenancies can be updated to take advantage of the security offered through fixed term contracts. Landlords can consider suggesting this option and prospective tenants seeking a more permanent place to stay should feel confident proposing a fixed term.
Under the current RTA, although a fixed term gives a level of reassurance for the duration of that term, when that term expires either party can give as little as 21 days notice of their intention not to renew. That's not a lot of time for either party to figure out what they are going to do.
All experienced landlords recognize that their level of risk of property damage may well not be covered by four weeks' bond - the maximum allowable under the current RTA. Additions such 'doggie deposits' which are commonplace in other countries provide a real means of protecting the landlord from a new stream of risk.
They also make it more likely that responsible tenants with pets can find a rental (currently a significant challenge in some areas where landlords understandably have no appetite to take on that additional risk of damage.
Treating tenants as second class citizens is insulting the intelligence of a group renting either through necessity or choice.
With recent media focus on rental housing unaffordability, it's timely to remind readers that renting is, and almost always will be - cheaper than owning a property. Contrary to the media reports, most landlords don't make big bucks from their rentals.
Put simply, renting the money is just about always more expensive than renting the house. In fact, many, many landlords have to subsidise the income they receive from rents in order to meet mortgage, insurance, maintenance and rates requirements.
Thank goodness there are still property investors who are prepared to buy and rent out houses - ownership has always been beyond the appetite or financial means of many in our society, and they may have very valid other priorities.
Treating tenants as second class citizens is insulting the intelligence of a group renting either through necessity or choice. Landlords need to respect the decision of these renters not to own the house they live in.
To make renting more attractive and acceptable, Landlords need to step back from 'breathing down their tenants necks' with draconian-style inspections. Instead, they should work alongside tenants to keep on top of maintenance issues rather than sitting in judgment about how they messy they are.
As central government divests its rental stocks and asks more private sector landlords to step up and provide housing, those landlords and renters will need support through changes to the RTA to reflect their longer term tenancy intentions.
We can create a rental property environment that supports responsible tenants and responsible landlords - by facilitating longer tenures, within an environment where the rights and responsibilities of both parties are supported.