28 Sep 2023

ACT announces landlords policy, including 'pet bond'

5:18 pm on 28 September 2023
House  with "For Rent" sign in front

Photo: 123rf

ACT is promising to make it easier for landlords to evict tenants, including if they are in emergency housing.

The party announced its new policy on Thursday morning, leader David Seymour saying landlords had been scapegoated and blamed by Labour for the housing crisis.

The policy includes:

  • Amend the Residential Tenancies Act so landlords can evict tenants after two written notices within a year, rather than three within 90 days
  • Return tenants' notice period to 21 days (currently 28) and landlords' to 42 (currently 90) if they want to move or sell
  • Allow landlords to charge an additional pet bond
  • Give landlords the power to dispose of goods left in a tenancy after two weeks
  • Allow testimony from neighbouring residents to act as proof of anti-social behaviour at Tenancy Tribunal
  • Apply Residential Tenancies Act section 53B to all tenancies rather than just periodic ones - allowing tenancies to be terminated in certain circumstances, with termination notice periods reducing from 90 to 21 days

There were also a series of Kāinga Ora specific policies which would encourage the government landlord to evict unruly tenants, and terminate their tenancy rather than move them elsewhere.

  • Allow Kāinga Ora to terminate a tenancy rather than being transferred and this would only require a service unit manager's sign-off rather than chief executive and deputy
  • Make it so Kāinga Ora tenants evicted for antisocial behaviour are moved to the bottom of public and emergency housing waitlists
  • Scrap the "sustainable tenancies" policy
  • Set a policy requiring Kāinga Ora to engage police if they're made aware of illegal activity
  • Require Kāinga Ora to process and consider all public complaints and inform complainants of its decision

The "pet bond" would allow landlords to charge a higher bond than the usual four weeks' worth of rent to cover for damage caused by pets. The party said this would allow "genuine negotiation" between landlords and tenants and increase the number of rentals allowing pets.

It also highlighted the party's previously announced policies, including reinstating interest deductibility from April next year, abolishing the bright line test, sharing half of GST with local councils, automatically allowing building materials approved by equivalent seismic jurisdictions to be used in New Zealand, requiring councils to accept MBIE-certified building materials, and replacing Labour's RMA reforms with a property-rights focused law.

"ACT will end Labour's war on landlords, including by immediately reinstating mortgage interest deductibility from April 2024," Seymour said.

"Real solutions for renters don't involve pitting tenants against landlords but making it easier to build houses to bring rents down and give tenants more choice."

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