Landlords flooded with rent relief requests are reminding tenants they also have bills to pay, while renters groups are campaigning for further Government help packages.

It comes as landlords complained many tenants misunderstood yesterday's Government announcement to give home owners and small businesses a six-month "holiday" from making interest repayments and payments on their bank loans.

Landlords said renters had been approaching them, arguing that if landlords were no longer paying any costs then rents should also be temporarily ceased.

But landlords were keen to emphasise their costs did not stop. They were still accruing interest on their debts during the "holiday", and this would now have to be paid later rather than sooner, meaning they would be left with a bigger total bill in the long run.


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The "holiday" aimed to simply give home owners breathing space so they didn't default on payments and lose their house or business, not cut long-term costs.

Home owner and small-scale commercial landlord Julian Swier said he was laden with mortgage repayments and trying to keep a small business running through the lockdown.

Yet he had been approached "left-right-and-centre" by people now wanting a "rent holiday" after watching yesterday's announcement.

"They are obviously under the impression that the interest on the loan doesn't accrue," he said.

The confusion comes as every Kiwi and sector of the New Zealand economy is under severe pressure as a result of the four-week Government lockdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Landlords say
Landlords say "mortgage holiday" is only a payment deferral but ultimately they still have the same or more costs. Photo / 123rf

Property Investors Foundation executive officer Andrew King urged landlords and renters to work together.

He said cancelling rents completely was not feasible.


But also that landlords needed renters during this period.

"We don't know how many job losses there is going to be but there could be thousands, tens-of-thousands of people losing their jobs in which case it could be very hard for a landlord to actually find another tenant," he said.

"If that is the case you really want to try and keep hold of the tenants you've got."

He said it would also be in landlords interests to help tenants where possible.

"We would like Winz to really step up - and if people are losing their jobs - get them the help they need as quickly as possible."

Christchurch man Sean Raddock, who has four children to support and a temporary job at a factory, hoped more could be done for renters.

He said there was a chance his job might be put on hold for the next four weeks, and he wasn't quite sure how he would get by - so the news his landlord could be getting a break from their bills wasn't warmly welcomed.

"I can understand what the Government are trying to do. But at the end of the day it's not just those who have a mortgage that are struggling, it's everybody," he said.

Renters United spokesperson Anna Mooney said the priority for the next four weeks was making sure people were not evicted from their houses.

After the Government announcement about mortgages, she said Renters United would like to see something that's going to help renters pay their rent.

"Landlords and tenants should be having open conversations now about how they can work together. Whether that means landlords are helping out tenants, or reducing their rent - that would be really good," she said.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson also encouraged landlords and tenants to discuss how the mortgage holiday would work. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

He told Radio NZ's Morning Report the Government had announced a freeze on rent increases during the lockdown period and put in protections so tenants could not be evicted during this time unless they were engaged in illegal behaviour.

And some landlords were going a step further to help, including that of Auckland renter Jess Keating, who was told via text yesterday her rent would be dropping by nearly 40 per cent for the next four weeks.

With two young children to support and her husband currently looking for work, the news was welcomed.

"I actually had a little cry, because it's really encouraging at a time like this," she said.

But Raddock said the current situation would only exacerbate the gap between landlords and renters.

"House prices are higher than they ever have been in this country.

"I'm 35 years old and still not even close to being able to afford a house yet and I know a lot of people in the same predicament.

"It's just going to exacerbate that a lot more, because we're going to have to spend a lot more money because we can't go to work, or have to dip into our potential house savings to try pay rent," he said.

- with Radio NZ