Market Update: November 2017

Banning the letting of non-compliant properties

If you’re playing by the book, you have nothing to worry about. That’s the message the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Tenancy Compliance and Investigation Team have for unscrupulous landlords.

The team will be leading an investigation into properties which don’t meet their standards for housing. Should a property be found to be unsuitable to be tenanted, the landlord could land themselves in hot water. This is regardless of whether the renter has complained about the state of the property, or are happy to live in it as is.

Repairs may be ordered to be completed, with the rent withheld from the landlord until they’ve been completed. While this is clearly good news for renters, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to skip their rent payments. Instead they’ll continue to pay, but the money will be held by the MBIE until the landlord has fixed the issue or it’s been dealt with by the Tenancy Tribunal.

While some landlords will be nervous at hearing this news, others will be letting out of a sigh of relief, as the investigation has the ability to level the playing field for landlords. It will also undoubtedly make life easier for renters, who may have either had their requests for repairs ignored, or were hesitant to ask in the first place.

But landlords aren’t being expected to go it alone. If Labour’s Healthy Homes Bill gets passed, more support will be offered to landlords in making their properties more suitable for tenants. Grants of $2000 for insulation and heating would become available, a welcome relief for those living in houses that are both too hot and/or too cold.

Improving the rights of renters is one of Labour’s promises, one in which they’re quickly making headway on. They’re aiming to get rid of no-cause tenancy terminations and letting fees. Labour will also be working to limit the amount of times rents can increase (to no more than once a year, instead once every six months) and ensure transparency between these increases, by having them stated in tenancy agreements so tenants aren’t caught unawares.