It can be tough renting a place to live, and it could be about to get tougher.
Radio NZ is reporting that the American Rentberry app wants to start operating in New Zealand. Rentberry allows landlords to play perspective tenants off against each other in a bidding war to “win” a home.
In the middle of a housing crisis, the last thing needed is an easy way for landlords to squeeze more rent out of their tenants.
As if it wasn’t hard enough already to get a decent place to live in our broken property market. Cities like Wellington have seen a 10% rise in average rents in the last year. The median Auckland rental home costs $530 a week.
The scales are already tipped in favour of landlords and against people who rent.
Last year, I brought my Residential Tenancies (Safe and Secure Rentals) Amendment Bill to Parliament that would have created more transparency around rent rises, among other things to help renters.
I’d like to see the formula for rent rises included in every tenancy agreement. I’m not opposed to landlords adjusting their rents from time to time, but it’s only fair that tenants get transparency around when that happens and why.
People who take out fixed mortgages from banks know that after 12 months or whatever time they’ve fixed their interest rate for, the interest rate may change. They can plan and budget in advance for that. People who rent their home deserve the same ability to budget and plan for the long term.
My Bill would also have limited rent rises to no more than once a year. Unfortunately it didn’t get enough support from other political parties to become law.
With home ownership at its lowest level since 1951, we’re seeing more and more families and older people renting. It’s time to update the renting rules to reflect that.
Kids and families do better when they can put down roots in their communities and don’t have to keep moving house because of rising rents.
Unfortunately, the current rental rules are “a relic of the past,” according to people like economist Shamubeel Eaqub. Lots of other counties encourage stable, long term renting as an option that’s on par with home ownership. With the right, balanced rules, renting doesn’t have to be a second choice option.
One way to do that would be to give tenants an automatic right of renewal when their lease expires.
But it looks like New Zealand is going the other way. The rental property market is looking more and more like a Wild West, and now the bandits are riding into town with new apps that force people who want to rent a home to outbid each other.
It’s time to fix things up and modernise the rules to give people who rent a home a fair go.