Green’s rental bill fails

A Green Party bill aiming to strengthen tenant rights and increase the length of tenancies has failed at the first hurdle.

Thursday, December 1st 2016, 11:00AM 3 Comments

by Miriam Bell

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei’s Residential Tenancies (Safe and Secure Rentals) Amendment Bill was voted down by 61 votes to 59 at its first reading in Parliament last night.

The Bill would have set minimum standards for warmth, dryness and safety in all rental properties, but it also contained a number of significant changes to tenancy standards and regulations.

These included:

• Removing the obligation on tenants to pay leasing fees.

• Setting a default of three years for fixed-term tenancies - while maintaining the provision for both parties to opt out and set the term of their choice.

• Enforcing a 90 day notice period in the event a landlord decides to sell a tenanted property.

• Limiting rent increases to no more than once a year, regardless of tenancy type or term.

• Requiring the formula for calculating any future rent increase be included in tenancy agreement forms.

• Allowing tenants a right of first refusal when their lease expires

Turei said the Bill was an opportunity to support the more than 1.5 million Kiwis who live in rented homes.

With New Zealand’s home ownership rate at the lowest level since 1951 and over half of all Aucklanders renting, tenancy rules needed to be updated to give renters a “fair deal” and more security, she said.

“People who rent need stability so they can put down roots in their communities.

“Stable tenancies are good for landlords too, because the time properties are empty and not earning rent is reduced, and tenants look after properties when they know they can call them home for several years.”

However, National, United Future and Act voted against Turei’s Bill, which meant the end of its passage through the legislative process.

ACT Party leader David Seymour said all of the measures in the Bill could already be written into a tenancy contract and that a law change was not required.

Political moves to boost tenants’ rights are not off the Parliamentary agenda though.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little’s Healthy Homes Guarantee No 2 Bill is currently before the Government Administration Select Committee.

Little’s Bill passed its first reading in Parliament by 61-60 and is likely to be fiercely contested in its passage through the House.

The National Party has already said that it won’t be supporting Little’s Bill.

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Comments from our readers

On 1 December 2016 at 5:13 pm jeff.saunders said:
As a Green supporter it is most disappointing to see tenant's rights being strengthened. We already have a huge skew towards tenants rights, and this deserved to fail until more balance is found.
On 1 December 2016 at 6:21 pm Peter L said:
A fitting fate for a stupid bill.

Isn't it amazing hom so many leftish MPs think that you can get rid of costs simply by legislating them away.
On 1 December 2016 at 8:01 pm mcranus said:
I'm also not in favour of skewing the rights towards tenants without the right to remove bad tenants in a timely manner . Been bitten three times Iin 5 years trying to do the right thing.

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