Article: Speak Easy

Is The MBIE  Really Beating  Up Landlords? with Michael BoturIs The MBIE Really Beating Up Landlords? with Michael Botur

Not long ago, I heard a property manager refer to the MBIE Renting And You Roadshow as a ‘Beat Up Landlords Roadshow.’
Is that fair? They say where there’s smoke there’s fire, and I’ve encountered a lot of ‘smoke’ coming from the property industry where the slightly left wing government is often seen as, well, not anti-business, but not as pro-business as the Nats.

MBIE’s roadshows for small business owners – including landlords – aim to “inform and educate landlords, property managers, renters and community groups about the Healthy Homes Guarantees Act, clarify 2016 insulation changes, and provide tips and information about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant or a landlord.”
Each roadshow seminar includes reps from Tenancy Services, the Tenancy Tribunal and the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (EECA).

The topics which chronically recur for landlords and are focused-on at each event are:
• Subletting and the Residential Tenancies Act
• Methamphetamine (‘P’) testing
• Persons or pets exceeding those allowed under the Tenancy Agreement
• The difference between careless damage and intentional damage
• Mould in rental properties
• The 90 days’ notice period
• Insulation certificates
• Replacing smoke alarm batteries
• Insulating apartments
• Tenant liability for careless damage
So from where does the idea come that the MBIE stands up for tenants too much? It’s partly the results of the Tenancy Tribunal. And which voices are crying bias? You’ll find Johnny Government and the humble landlord interacting on Facebook, of all places, where MBIE’s Tenancy Services is fulfilling its duty to widely spread awareness of reform of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. 

Here’s one choice example of landlords feeling they are being beaten up and expressing their position on Facebook (in response to proposals that Tenants may have enshrined rights to keep pets.)

“This is a step to far for the government, to take the choice away from the owners that are doing their best to protect their investment,” one landlord commented. “This [proposal] opens the door for landlords to be prosecuted if they decline applicant tenants with animals. It seems many of these proposals are making it much harder for landlords….where is the balance?”

One landlord even cited a specific pro-tenant ruling. “This is one of the reasons I sold - my investment, my risk, my rules. Particularly with Osaka vs Holler ruling when tenants don’t have to financially rectify damage. I love pets but I know they cause damage. I don’t know where renters are going to live once investors sell (and I did allow cats).”

And as for the proposal to allow tenants the right to make ‘low risk’ modifications to rental properties: not popular.
From one landlord: “Jesus, are good landlords going to have any legs to stand on?? Or are tenants going to be dictating everything and just leave them the bill after they trash the place?”
Head to http://www.hud.govt.nz for the Ministry of Housing and Development’s consultation documents and news and learn how to have your say. Meanwhile, Tenancy Matters is organising an online seminar for those of us who missed out on the roadshow (which only visited the four main centres, sadly). 

Michael Botur has published journalism in NZ Herald, Herald on Sunday, Sunday Star-Times and Mana and he writes a lot of fiction. He moved to Whangarei in 2015 and was ecstatic to be able to afford a house here.


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