The Very Strange World of Grant Robertson

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

On the morning of the 19th of January 2018, the current Minister of Finance Grant Robertson wrote a rather strange post on his Facebook account.

Everyone knows that the rental housing market in Wellington is tight. The Government is committed to helping increase the supply of housing and to improving the rights of renters. But that is going to take some time. In the meantime, there is no excuse for landlords exploiting the situation. My office is getting stories of $50 per week increases on the basis that student allowances and living cost payments have gone up by that much. Let me know if this has happened to you. Landlords will increase rents from time to time but it needs to be fair and reasonable. Let’s expose those who are exploiting you and your friends. Send me an email at [email protected]

So, after his party has flooded the rental market in Wellington by offering free first-year tertiary tuition, Grant’s response is to lay the blame for rental increases squarely on the shoulders of landlords.

Landlords, whose only real crime is that they are acting in their own best interests.

Obviously, there are dodgy landlords out there who need to be held to account for their shady practices. However, these are an exception to the norm. By and large, most landlords would prefer a happy tenant, who pays their rent on time and respects the space they live in.

The increasing costs being placed on landlords through recent legislation in addition to higher demand due to more students seeking accommodation has created something of a ‘perfect storm’ in the capital city.

To a certain extent, some of these new regulations are to be welcomed with respect to the heating insulation requirements due to be put into place by July 1st of 2019.

However other changes under the proposed Residential Tenancies Act Amendment Bill are more open to debate.

In a recent interview, Tenancy Consultant Scotney Williams said:

Landlords and property managers will have to accommodate significant changes to their business model,[…]

With the new Government promising to abolish the requirement for tenants to pay letting fees, property management firms will have (sic) charge their owner clients a fee to replace the abolished letting fee formerly paid by tenants or suffer reduced income.

Property managers and landlords will also find terminating periodic tenancies much harder with the removal of the “no cause terminations, involving the use of the 90 day Notice.

Anyone with a passing knowledge of basic economics will understand that if you increase costs on suppliers whilst at the same time increasing demand for their product, the inevitable result is these additional costs being passed on to the consumer.

And now Grant is wishing to – ‘expose those who are exploiting you and your friends.’

I certainly hope people do write to Grant Robertson about this issue. Hopefully, they will ask some more searching questions as to his own party’s responsibility for these sudden rent increases.

 


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