Thursday news in brief

Thursday 13 July 2017

Life is busy and it’s easy to miss some of the stories that hit the news. So here’s a brief rundown of some of the stories that might have slipped by you this week…

Battling the cold

Over a third of New Zealanders (4 out of 10) try to reduce their power bills during winter by using as little heating as possible, a new survey by HRV and AUT has revealed.

AUT Professor of Sociology Charles Crothers said heating costs hit renters harder than home owners, with over half using as little heating as possible to reduce costs. He thinks New Zealand’s housing stock is substandard and rentals need bringing up to standard with insulation.

But NZ Property Investor Federation executive officer Andrew King has long said that many tenants don’t use heating in winter which means even insulated properties can be cold and damp. He is a staunch advocate for the provision of electricity vouchers to low income families.

This week the Labour Party announced that, if elected, it will introduce a Winter Energy Payment of up to $700 a year for people on benefits and older people to keep warm in winter. It said it could benefit up to one million people.

Read more: Insulation wake-up call 

Tribunal accused of bias against landlords

The explosion of a non-consented sleep-out and a $7,500 Tenancy Tribunal award against a landlord for renting out a flood-prone house has turned the spotlight to the practices of dodgy landlords.

However, one Wellington landlord this week criticised the Tribunal as biased after a tenant "trashed" his house and the Tribunal awarded him just $768.11 to cover damage that he estimated to be about $5000.

The landlord, Andrew MacKenzie, said landlords' concerns that the Tribunal was expensive and ineffective was leading them to raise rents in order to cover the cost of possible damage.

NZPIF executive officer Andrew King said the Tenancy Act was designed to protect tenants and the Tribunal probably did put a higher requirement on landlords to get it right, but it was meant to be balanced.

Read more: Tenancy Tribunal has bite 

DTIs could stop 39% of Aucklanders from buying property

If the Reserve Bank was to institute a debt to income (DTI) ratio of five, 39% of Aucklanders believe they will not be able to buy properties, according to a new Horizon Research poll.

Overall, putting DTIs in place could see about 15,000 adults or 6% of “definite” buyers leave the market, the researchers found. “For those looking to sell a house and buy a new one, it could mean an inability to buy, resulting in fewer definite sellers putting their properties up for sale.”

But more owner-occupiers than investors, especially in Auckland, think they would be affected by DTIs if they were looking to buy a property.

While 33% nationally and 13% of Aucklanders looking to buy a home to live in said they would still be able to buy if DTI ratios were put in place, 43% nationally and 33% of Aucklanders looking to buy an investment property said they would still buy if DTIs were in place.

Read more: DTIs would cut thousands out of market 

Speak up on the RTA No.2 Bill

Submissions are now open on the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2) and the Local Government & Environment Select Committee is urging people to have their say.

The Bill, which recently passed its first reading in Parliament, is intended to ensure that tenancy laws better manage meth contamination, liability for careless damage and the tenancy of unsuitable properties.

The Select Committee’s chairperson, National MP Andrew Bayly, is encouraging people to make a submission on the Bill. “I am looking forward to working through the vitally important issues raised in the bill.”

Submissions on the Bill, which can be read here, need to be made by 22 August 2017.

Read more: Tenant damage law change

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