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Private Landlords Will Answer Government Call for Emergency Housing Relief Under the Right Policy Settings

The government’s latest announcement on the pressing issue of emergency housing signals a notable shift towards fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors. 

In brief, the government is setting out to end large-scale use of emergency housing by 

  1. Implementing a new Priority One category that will facilitate a fast-track process to house vulnerable families (those with dependent children in emergency housing for longer than 12 weeks) and 
  2. Strengthening and reviewing the qualification and ongoing eligibility criteria for current and future emergency housing applications. 

This move signifies a pivotal moment in tackling one of our country’s most significant challenges, and the Auckland Property Investors Association (APIA) welcomes this approach with open arms.

The government’s call for assistance from the private sector, as reported by RNZ this morning, highlights a recognition of the need for a multifaceted solution to the housing crisis. As stakeholders in the property sector, private landlords stand ready to play their part in alleviating the strain on emergency housing services. However, for this partnership to flourish, there are critical adjustments needed in the tenancy landscape to mitigate risks for landlords and ensure a smoother operation.

Support positive risk-taking

Simply put, the current tenancy settings do not promote positive risk-taking and limit housing opportunities for tenants with less-than-perfect track records. 

The previous government’s heavy-handed approach to removing the 90-day no-fault termination has significantly reduced the acceptable margin of error for tenant vetting. ‘This myopic attitude towards security of tenure is forcing landlords to over-compensate by only renting to “picture perfect” tenants, leaving those with a chequered past literally out in the cold,’ says APIA general manager Sarina Gibbon. A more balanced tenancy setting will reduce these instances of inadvertent discrimination against these tenants and give them a chance to secure a home in the private market. 

APIA supports pragmatic and balanced tenancy settings that protect both landlords and tenants. “Reinstating no-fault termination is an obvious solution, but I get that talks of reinstatement can be incredibly unsettling for tenants,” says Gibbon. “I, for one, would like to see a more nuanced policy solution that will encourage landlords to take a chance on “imperfect” but fundamentally good tenants.” 

Expanding the housing stock 

APIA recognises that the pressure on housing is not limited to the emergency housing roll and is, in fact, felt across the board. “We can talk about who to house privately and who to house socially all day, and we still can’t get away from the fact that there are not enough houses in New Zealand,” says Gibbon. 

APIA firmly believes that fostering a conducive environment for private investment in housing development is integral to resolving the rental shortage. By collaborating with the government and implementing policies that address landlords’ concerns while incentivising construction, we can move closer to ensuring that every New Zealander has access to safe and secure housing. “This is not a radical idea,” says Gibbon, “The government has already signalled its intent to amend the Income Tax Act for Build-to-Rent developments. Extending similar benefits to private developers aligns with the urgent need to increase housing supply. It’s time for all hands on deck, and such measures can significantly contribute to bridging the housing gap.”

APIA is encouraged by the government’s outreach to the private sector in tackling emergency housing needs. By addressing tenancy settings and incentivising housing development, we can forge a path towards a more sustainable and inclusive housing future for all New Zealanders. It’s time to work together, leveraging the strengths of both public and private sectors, to build a brighter tomorrow.

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