Article: Property Investment

Tenant WOF And Promising Infrastructure with Frank NewmanTenant WOF And Promising Infrastructure with Frank Newman

The Hawke’s Bay District Health Board is taking a practical and enlightened view when it comes to rental property. They have introduced a two-session course called “Ready to Rent” which teaches tenants about their rights and responsibilities when renting and basic skills like cleanliness and heating.
 
In effect, those who complete the course receive a “warrant of fitness” in the form of a letter of support, which they can present when applying for properties. It appears to be a first for New Zealand, although similar schemes of the same name have been in running overseas for a number of years.
 
One News featured the scheme on the 28th of August. They interviewed a landlord who said, “many people renting the first time don’t have references so this would be invaluable as it effectively gives them that”. He predicted it would be standard practice nationwide within five years.
 
I hope the prediction comes true. The scheme is a win-win and a positive and proactive approach to addressing the challenges that tenants and landlords face.
It also flies in the face of short-sighted and unimaginative politicians who see political mileage in demonising landlords, when nine out of 10 cases before the Tenancy Tribunal are taken against tenants.
 
Let’s be honest about this - the main problem in the rental market is bad tenants, not bad landlords. It’s therefore appropriate that good tenants have the means to demonstrate their suitability to landlords. Tenants who have a poor credit record, or have a Tenancy Tribunal judgement against them, or are unable to provide references, will find it hard to obtain private rental accommodation - especially when there is a housing shortage and tenants have to compete. In practice, their only option may be the renter of last resort - the Housing Corporation - or living in substandard conditions.
 
It is surprising that this new initiative has been taken on by a health board. I hope Tenancy Services picks up on the scheme, and extends it to include landlords or property managers so they too can obtain a Ready to Rent certification and demonstrate that they have made a commitment to meet their responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act.
 
There is nothing like a close election race to bring out promises, as Labour and National enter into a bidding war for votes. The regions are being pampered with affection, including National’s promise of more than 10 billion dollars worth of roading infrastructure along with extending the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband to another 190 towns at a cost of $270 million.
 
Both are important for regional growth, and have the potential to reverse what  is typically a population drift to the big cities. The Bay of Plenty Times recently reported that more than 1000 new companies have started up in Tauranga in the last year, and that does not include sole traders or partnerships. Many of the new businesses are home-based, with people using cafes or shared offices as meeting places. The main issue for broadband infrastructure is keeping pace with user demand and innovation. New Zealand has been a bit slow to embrace that potential and risks missing out on emerging opportunities - such as online learning.
 
I would be so bold as to say that fast broadband has the potential to “disrupt” our tertiary education sector in the same way that AirBNB and Uber have changed their sectors.  It is quite feasible that within a generation universities as we know them will become to education, what the horse and carriage are to modern-day transport.
 
The innovators and visionaries are already leading this. The founders of udacity.com sum it up pretty well when they say, “Education is no longer a one-time event but a lifelong experience. Education should be less passive listening (no long lectures) and more active doing. Education should empower students to succeed not just in school but in life.”
 
New Zealand could be a world leader in online education, but if it wants to do so it needs to think beyond normal. The smart thing politicians could do that is put the infrastructure in place so the really smart people can get on with innovating and bringing the future to us rather than waiting for it to arrive. Unfortunately smart thinking does not seem to count for much when it comes to voters making up their minds who to vote for!

Frank Newman is the principal of Newman Property Consultancy. He is the author of numerous books on investment matters. For questions or comment about this article contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


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