Being a tenant is not seen as a viable long-term housing option in New Zealand because we have one of the least tenant-friendly regimes in the developed world, an economist warns.

The situation is encouraging more people to buy property, forcing prices up and contributing to housing affordability problems, says NZIER chief economist Shamubeel Eaqub.

If tenants were offered better security of tenure and were able to treat their rental like their own home, many could be willing to forgo home ownership, he said when releasing a new report The Home Affordability Challenge.

Home ownership rates are at their lowest since 1951 - but rather than obsessing about that, it is a trend New Zealanders should embrace, said Mr Eaqub, who is himself a renter.


He said it was wrong to blame Chinese investors, lack of an effective capital gains tax, planning rules or cheap credit for our housing market problems.

The issue could not be fixed by a single silver bullet, he said.

" . . . the solutions will be complex and perhaps the most effective measures could come from unexpected corners, like rental market reform."