Ghost houses

It was bound to happen. Once you have a government that indicates it wants to tax everything that moves, and a few things that don’t, journalists crawl out of the woodwork all over the place with new ideas as to how this can be done.

This from Stuff today. Quote:

The locals call them “ghost houses”, and there could well be one in your street. If you live on Auckland’s North Shore, chances are there may be several.

They are the unoccupied houses, where the only people who come and go are the gardeners and random door-knockers. And sometimes, not even the garden maintenance people pay a visit.

And there are lots of these houses. Figures from the last census showed there were 141,366 empty dwellings in New Zealand, which are separate from houses that are vacant because their owners are away around census time. More than 33,000 houses in Auckland were officially classified as empty in 2016. End quote.

I own a ghost house, although it is not in Auckland. It is occupied for about 6 weeks a year, and then it is a holiday home. The rest of the time it is a ghost house. Quote:

Darby says empty houses raise several issues, including a perceived “waste” when the city has a serious housing shortfall.

“It’s also about the care that the presence of people in the community bring to a neighbourhood. We don’t tax empty houses as they do in Vancouver (to try and minimise these issues), and we are not sure of the extent of the problem, but I do think it is something for the new government to address, especially in light of the housing crisis.” End quote.

This is a very slippery slope, but it was always going to happen. How do you define an empty house? Is it if it is not lived in at all for, say 6 months? What if you are away on holiday? What if it is a holiday bach? What if you are away for work or study, but plan to return? Where do you draw the line? Quote:

Adam Bennett, an event promoter, is a North Shore resident who runs many kilometres in the course of a week. He can pinpoint numerous empty houses around Bayswater, Hauraki Corner and Devonport. Some have been empty for more than three years, and he says the number is growing.

“The owners are clearly international investors who buy a property, park their money there and pull the blinds across,” Bennett says. “Property is a pretty safe bet when you are looking for an investment that is not the sharemarket or banks.”

“They don’t rent these houses out because they don’t want the wear and tear or the hassles that go with that.” End quote.

Can’t say I blame them. Insulation requirements, rental warrants of fitness, tenant risk… there are a lot of risks with renting out houses these days. If the sole purpose is to make a capital gain, why should anyone not be allowed to leave a privately owned house empty for as long as they like? No one is forced to rent their investment property out… yet.Quote:

“Areas on the periphery of other suburbs, where there is a lot of land, are being bought up, and the properties are often not tenanted, because the return might be only 1 per cent, so it’s not thought to be worthwhile. You can get 3 to 4 per cent return elsewhere in the city.

“The classic purchaser is just there to land bank till such time as the land is zoned residential.” In some Asian cultures, for example, people were generational holders of land, he said.

Jason Yianakis, sales manager at Harcourts Birkenhead, says his branch hasn’t noticed clients “land banking”, but says properties can stay vacant for up to 18 months as the owners are going through the building and resource consents process.

“We have one client planning a renovation, and is waiting for a gap in his schedule when he can get on to it. Another one is waiting for a consent. Owners don’t want to put tenants in there in the meantime, because the tenancy laws make it difficult to let them go when a consent suddenly comes through and you want to start work.” End quote.

And there is another thing. Waiting for council consents. Another reason why properties may be left vacant for some time. If we are going to force owners of empty houses to rent them out: what happens then? Quote:

Meanwhile, Auckland’s homeless crisis is set to rise to new levels this winter, with part of the blame being put on a Housing NZ policy of boarding up state homes months in advance of plans to redevelop sections.

Minister of Housing Phil Twyford stated earlier this month that New Zealand will not be following Vancouver’s example in introducing taxes on empty houses.

“The Labour-led government has a comprehensive plan to address the housing shortage including cracking down on offshore speculators and changing rules around negative gearing,” Twyford said. End quote.

Yes. Enough said about Twyford’s plans. No houses being built, and record numbers of people on state housing waiting lists. Nothing like a plan that works, eh Phil?

However, the fault here lies with the government. Both the previous government and the current one have had grandiose ideas about fixing the housing crisis that have not worked. Forcing people to rent out their empty houses is not the answer. But do you think that will stop them? Quote:

Christchurch Progressive Network convenor John Minto, who is advocating such a scheme, has criticised the government’s “poor use of money“. “It is stupid for the government to spend tens of millions on motel accommodation for homeless families when we have 33,000 empty homes in Auckland (2016 figures).” End quote.

Oh God. Minto. What else would you expect from a cultural Marxist? Is he proposing empty houses be compulsorily occupied by people waiting for state houses? Oh, what a great idea. Can’t wait for someone to move into my holiday home and set up a meth lab. Quote:

Chris Darby also raises the question of under utilisation of our housing stock. He points to a number of empty apartments in the Devon Park complex in Stanley Point Road, and a penthouse that is occupied for just four weeks of the year.

“I am under utilising my own house,” he says. “It’s much larger than I need. Perhaps this, too, is a question we should be asking.” End quote.

Yes, let’s take it all one step further, shall we? If you have a spare bedroom, you will be forced to rent it out to a homeless family. Or maybe we should only allow people to occupy houses that are an appropriate size. So a little old lady, still living in the family home after 40 years, will be forced to move out once her kids have grown up and her husband has died. What a kind, compassionate, Brave New World we are about to live in.

Don’t laugh. This government is capable of this. All the hallmarks are there. Marxism 101. Control all housing.  They can’t solve the housing crisis by building houses, or buying them up, so compulsory acquisition is the next step. I wouldn’t put it past this government for a second. What do you think?


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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