Proposed changes to NZ Residential Tenancies Act

Proposed changes to NZ Residential Tenancies Act blog

The long-awaited overhaul of tenancy laws was announced on Sunday.  Some of the key proposed changes to NZ Residential Tenancies Act include:

  • double the threshold for damages claims at the Tenancy Tribunal,
  • renters can do more to change properties,
  • anonymised Tenancy Tribunal rulings,
  • an end to no-cause evictions,
  • a ban on rental bidding.
  • limiting rent rises to once-yearly, up from six months.

The new laws, expected to be passed by Parliament in the new year, will automatically now assume that a ‘periodic tenancy’ will begin at the end of a fixed term lease. So if a lease ends after 12 months, it is assumed that the tenant will stay on a “periodic” (open-ended) tenancy from there on in, without needing to sign another fixed term agreement. Landlords can ask tenants to go onto a new fixed-term agreement, but the tenant has to agree.

Landlords will not be able to end a periodic agreement except for specific reasons such as selling the house, doing major renovations, three complaints of anti-social behaviour or more than three instances of rent being paid more than five days late over a 90 day period.

Renters who enter into a dispute with landlords and are successful in defending a claim or having their rights upheld, will now have their identities removed from tenancy tribunal decisions, if they choose, before the determinations are given. This is designed to protect tenants from being later penalised for being difficult by a potential future landlord. The same anonymised option will apply to landlords 

Landlords who do not comply with the Residential Tenancy Act will now be liable for payouts from the Tenancy Tribunal of up to $100,000 up from $50,000. Previously damages over $50,0000 had to go to the district court. The regulator, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment will also be able to make a single application against a landlord over a number of properties.

Landlords will not be able to able to start a bidding process for new rentals, however, if prospective tenants want to offer above the asking price, they will still be allowed to initiate a higher rent offer, which the landlord will be allowed to accept.

Landlords will also have to provide records proving that their homes meet healthy homes standards if the tenant requests them.

Landlords will also not be able to refuse requests for small changes to fittings that tenants wish to make that can be easily removed at the end of a tenancy. These could include fittings as a baby gates, baby proofing, curtains and installing dishwashers and washing machines.

If a tenancy is ended for a valid reason, such as a landlord selling a house, the landlord will now need to provide 63 days of notice – up from 42.

We will continue with updates about these changes as more information comes to hand.  If you have any questions please call our office to discuss.

Rental Properties Needed

Connect Realty Property Managers

Summer is on our doorstep and once again the Bay is ready for a busy time. We have already seen the arrival of cruise ships this month, and these will continue to grace our shores for the summer. This means lots of extra holidaymakers out and about enjoying our stunning region.

Besides holidaymakers, the Bay is still attracting lots of new residents to our region.  With a gorgeous climate, stunning white-sand beaches, and all the buzz you find in a city, who wouldn’t want to live here.

As a result of the continued influx of new couples and families, rental properties are still in very short supply.  In most cases, we are getting several applications as soon as they are placed on the internet, and some do not even get to the internet as we have tenants on our books waiting.  So please, if you do know someone wanting to rent out their homes send them our way.

We are looking for furnished or unfurnished houses, units and apartments in the Tauranga, Papamoa and Mount areas.

We will strive to provide a property management service of unbeatable quality and superior service so much so, we offer 100% money back guarantee after the first 3 months of management.

  • We solely specialise in property management
  • We are a boutique agency and offer personal service
  • Over 30 years of local knowledge of the area
  • Free appraisals and advice on where and what to buy
  • Advertising properties on 4 websites exposing it to many prospective tenants
  • Where necessary we feature properties on trade me to attract more tenants at no extra cost
  • Strong tenant selection credit and reference checking of tenants.
  • A team of dedicated contractors working for us at competitive rates for any maintenance issues or improvements.
  • Project management of any maintenance and refurbishment on a tenants behalf
  • Video and photos on all ingoing reports
  • 3 Monthly inspections with reports
  • You will be working with an experienced owner-operated with a vested interest to see the business grow and make sure clients are happy with our service

So call our team today to find our more.

 

Spring Property Maintenance

Swimming Pool

With the arrival and spring and summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to get your investment property looking its best, including lawns and gardens and any necessary repair work to outside areas. Property maintenance is not just about cleaning up, it is also time to be prudent about ensuring your investment property is meeting all the necessary safety standards according to the building code and Council regulations – particularly in relation to fencing around pools, and laws about pergolas and decks.

A recent article in the local paper stated that Water Safety New Zealand was disappointed by current attitudes towards fencing compliance, with many pool owners failing standards because they were more concerned with the look of their backyard. The article said:

“The Fencing of Swimming Pools Act is clear – all private outdoor pools must be fenced unless the walls of the pool are more than 1.2m above the ground, or the maximum depth is 400mm or less.

The fence must surround the area immediately around the pool only. Gates should close and latch automatically.

Older swimming pools are also required to adhere to the current standards…the most common reasons pool fences failed compliance were because they were not high enough, had gaps or gates that were not self-latching.”

The purpose of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act is to prevent young children from drowning, something seen as crucial even if you do not have children at your home.

Another area where you need to be prudent is building consents.  As a result of the Christchurch earthquake, new building codes were introduced for decks, pergolas and other additions to your property. These new standards aim to protect residents and the public from ‘unsafe’ building practices. For your Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa property please see the Tauranga City Council guidelines which outline when a consent is needed.

If you have any questions relating to this blog please feel free to phone on 0800 333 221, as your Property Managers we are more than happy to give advice or put you in contact with the correct agency.

Customer Service Key To Successful Property Managers

A recent article in ‘news.com.au’ highlighted the importance of consumer relationships and customer service in the real estate industry. While Australia is weathering a property downturn, their Real Estate Institute revealed that hard work and maintaining a high reputation is helping property managers through a difficult period.

A survey sent out to institute members showed that there was a real focus on customer service including follow-up, connecting with people and establishing a personal and agency reputation.

This focus had improved their reputation for honesty, integrity, professionalism, a community focus and local knowledge.

Key skills were hard work, self-drive and extended working hours and taking the time to build relationships in their community.

We at Connect Realty understand the importance of our relationship with you the client, and our focus is to provide you with “superior” customer service. As property managers, we aim to take all the stress away for both landlords and tenants with renting a property and make sure everything runs smoothly and seamlessly.

Also, as a locally owned and operated business we have a wealth of local knowledge, combined with extensive real estate and property management experience. Through this experience and local knowledge, we have developed an intuitive understanding of what you require and we aim to build a long-lasting relationship with you.

Besides an up-to-date website, Facebook page and a free-phone number, we also provide our mobile number for an easy point of contact. With our professional efficiency, we will go out of our way to talk or meet with you at all times of the day.

As the Australian Real Estate Institute highlighted, hard work and strong communication with clients are key to success, and they are the cornerstones of our business that we will continue to focus on in the future.

Why Use Property Managers

It has been an interesting year for landlords with new legislation and differing housing markets across the country.  Given the uncertainties that exist for property investors, there is even more reason to utilise experienced local property managers when buying an investment property. Here are some key reasons why you should choose Connect Realty as your Tauranga property manager:

  1. We know the area well.  With our local Tauranga knowledge and many years of property experience, we can ensure you are getting the best return for your investment.
  2. We specialise in property, we know and understand the new legislation and have access to all the necessary documentation that is required for both landlords and tenants.
  3. We offer free appraisals and advice on where and what to buy.
  4. We market your property for you, taking away the stress of dealing with internet listing issues and enquiries.
  5. We have one flat rate that includes everything, with no hidden costs or commissions.
  6. With market-leading software systems, we deliver up to the minute reporting.
  7. We inspect the property every three months and provide comprehensive inspection reports so you know exactly what state your property is in.
  8. We are the main contact for both tenants and landlords.  This helps keep the line of communication open.
  9. As well as regular property inspections, we also organise all maintenance and repairs with a team of dedicated contractors working for us at competitive rates.
  10. We strive to provide you with a property management service of unbeatable quality, and we are happy to offer a 100% money-back guarantee if you are not happy after the first three months of management.

If you have a property you would like to rent we would love to hear from you.

 

Boom Time In Tauranga

connect realty blog tauranga crossing mall

 

Tauranga is continuing with its housing and economic boom.  As an example, in the last month Tauranga’s newest mega-mall opened its doors to 1000 employees.  The mega-mall has 45 new stores, 17 restaurants, and a stunning 800-seat cinema. This is stage two of the $150 million development.

Tauranga Crossing opened its doors with an outdoor town centre and The Millyard dining precinct in August 2016. The lifestyle centre opened in 2018, bringing some of New Zealand and the world’s large retail stores to the area. The first part of our fully enclosed shopping centre opened in October 2018.

On completion, the 47,000sq m shopping complex will house up to 70 fashion, general merchandise, and service retailers.  Some of the big names of the fashion industry can already be found at the mall including global fashion retailer H&M, Decjuba, Pagani, Cotton On and Bras N Things.

When finished a two-level centre galleria and dining area will include 29 restaurants and eateries.  The Event Cinemas in the entertainment precinct will feature an 800-seat cinema with Vmax screen, full recliner chairs and double daybeds!

Tauranga Crossing is set to become the region’s ultimate retail destination. Designed with Tauranga’s celebrated sunny climate and lifestyle in mind, it’s a relaxed yet comfortably stylish destination to shop, eat and play in the bay. Check it out today – https://www.taurangacrossing.co.nz/

Capital Gains Tax Update

an update on capital gains tax by connect realty

 

Capital Gains Tax Update

The New Zealand Government created the Tax Working Group to consider the future of tax.  Chaired by former Finance Minister Hon Sir Michael Cullen, it will provide recommendations to Government that would improve the fairness, balance and structure of the tax system over the next 10 years.

It sought input from a diverse and wide range of New Zealanders and ran a two-month public consultation between 1 March and 30 April 2018.

In September 2018, the Tax Working Group released an interim report.  The report identified a list of asset classes that are not already subject to tax and that included houses excluding the family home, “Capital gains from these assets would be included in the tax base,” it said.

Labour coalition partner NZ First has yet to comment on whether it would support legislation enabling a capital gains tax.  It is acknowledged by many experts that a capital gains tax would add huge complexity to our relatively simple tax system, though some economists believe it may improve housing affordability.

Final recommendations from the Group will be out on Thursday and industry groups, lobbyists, iwi authorities, financial experts and institutions are gearing up to react.  We will bring you an update in our March blog.

To read the Tax Working Group reports visit their website – https://taxworkinggroup.govt.nz/

The latest NZ Herald article is copied below, or read online here https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12203299

Capital gains tax debate heating up: final recommendations out on Thursday

A capital gains tax would “add huge complexity to one of the world’s simplest tax systems” according to an Auckland-based investment expert, but a chief banking economist disagrees and backs its introduction.

Paul Glass, executive chairman of Devon Funds Management, said he was initially in favour of a CGT “but the more you look into it the less appealing it is” so he now opposes it.

But Dominick Stephens, Westpac chief economist, backs a CGT: “It would improve housing affordability, lead to a higher rate of home ownership, help remove the heavy skew we have towards land-based investments, and eventually lead to a more diverse national balance sheet. It would also improve incentives to engage in paid work if income tax was reduced.”

Final recommendations from the Tax Working Group will be out on Thursday and industry groups, lobbyists, iwi authorities, financial experts and institutions are gearing up to react.

The group, chaired by former finance minister Sir Michael Cullen, released an interim report last year which said it had “identified a list of asset classes that are not already subject to tax” and that included houses excluding the family home. “Capital gains from these assets would be included in the tax base,” it said.

Glass said that superficially, CGT sounds fairer, would aim to rebalance the economy away from assets and towards incomes and capture windfall profits when realised like land re-zoning.

“But it would add huge complexity to what is currently one of the world’s simplest tax systems, would result in a massive industry – as happens elsewhere in the world – advising on tax and minimisation structures, wouldn’t bring in much additional money, would fall heavily on the upper-middle because the very wealthy are very good at structuring their affairs and would be a real productivity burden with every business decision needing to be weighed up with a CGT lens,” Glass said.

The actual base for taxation would be small because the family home would most likely be exempt and that is about 42 per cent of New Zealanders’ assets, Glass said.

“We already have a progressive tax system whereby 40 per cent of households pay no net tax after transfers. The top 3 per cent pay 24 per cent of all tax received. The top 10 per cent of households pay 70 per cent of net tax,” Glass said.

Last week, EY global chairwoman of tax Kate Barton said New Zealand’s lack of a capital gains tax was “unusual” although in the United States, the system was quite complex.

Stephens says property is more lightly taxed than other forms of investment. Treasury and the Inland Revenue estimate that property investors pay 29.4 per cent of their after-inflation returns in tax, whereas bank depositors and owners of dividend-paying shares pay 55.7 per cent.

Andrew King, NZ Property Investors Federation executive officer, opposes CGT, claiming property is “taxed more heavily than other assets with a higher marginal effective tax rate because of local government rates.”

Kelvin Davidson, CoreLogic’s senior property economist, says all eyes are on this Thursday.

It seems all but certain that CGT, excluding the family home will be recommended, but there are plenty of uncertainties around the exact form of it, he says.

“Will it be a traditional CGT, when you pay a one-off lump sum when you sell, or will it be an annual charge on the assumed/theoretical income that your asset is generating?” he wonders.

Perhaps the biggest debate is around the tax rate – a person’s marginal income tax rate would seem to be a high rate to impose, he thinks.

“Whatever the details, the Government still has to accept the recommendations and then survive the next election, so none of this is a done deal. A CGT would certainly change the economics of property investment, dampening liquidity – after all, as an owner, you’re going to be less inclined to sell if you face a CGT liability. We already have a capital gains tax, via the brightline test,” Davidson said.

SNAPSHOT ON CGT

  • Paul Glass, executive chairman of Devon Funds Management: “CGT would add huge complexity to one of the world’s simplest tax systems.”
  • Dominick Stephens, Westpac chief economist: “CGT It would improve housing affordability, lead to a higher rate of home ownership, help remove the heavy skew we have towards land-based investments.”
  • Andrew King, executive office, NZ Property Investors Federation: Opposes CGT because landlords already pay extra tax via council rates.
  • Property Council: “CGT tends to be sub-optimal in terms of their coverage and ability to be a viable and stable revenue source. But there is a strong equity (fairness) rationale for the introduction of a CGT in New Zealand.”
  • AMP Capital Investors: “Introduction of a broad-based CGT is the obvious missing component of our tax system.”
  • EY: “If the Government has concerns regarding all forms of capital investment, [we recommend] considering a broad-based CGT. One of the key criteria by which we should assess our tax system is through equity and fairness. Our current tax system focuses heavily on taxing income. However, income is not the only or major source of affluence for many New Zealanders.”
  • Federated Farmers: 81 per cent of 1393 survey respondents oppose CGT. Farmers would quit the industry, CGT would make work for accountants and lawyers and create issues with inter-generational family farming operations, respondents said.
  • DairyNZ: “Introduction of a comprehensive CGT presents significant challenges, both in transition and practical implementation.”
  • Craig Stobo, company director: “New Zealand already has a CGT. However, it is not comprehensive and there are concerns about how to consistently enforce it.”
  • Waikato Tainui: “Any new asset/wealth taxes, including any CGT or land tax, must exclude all Waikato-Tainui whenua and other taonga and all raupatu and other Tiriti settlement assets including post-settlement right of first refusal assets acquired from the Crown.”
  • Taxpayers’ Union: “Taxing capital should be approached with great caution in the specific New Zealand context. New Zealand’s economy suffers from shallow capital markets and allow productivity, contributing towards a low wage environment. A CGT would likely make that worse.”

New Tenancy Regulations Proposed By Government

photo of kitchen for connect realy tauranga blog about new goverment regulations proposed 2018.

 

This month saw new Government regulations proposed for two key issues that will have significant effects on the residential property rental sector. Submissions were called for on proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act and the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act.

The current Government says its proposed reform of tenancy laws aims to “make life better for renters” by:

  • Improving tenants’ security and stability while protecting landlords’ interests
  • Ensuring the law appropriately balances the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords and helps renters feel at home
  • Modernising the legislation so it can respond to the changing trends in the rental market
  • Improving the quality of boarding houses and the accountability of boarding house landlords.

Contentious proposals on which the Government is seeking feedback include:

  • Ending no cause terminations while ensuring landlords are still able to end tenancies for justifiable reasons
  • Increasing the amount of notice a landlord must generally give tenants to terminate a tenancy from 42 days to 90 days
  • Whether changes to fixed-term agreements are justified to improve security of tenure
  • Limiting rent increases to once a year
  • Whether there should be limitations on the practice of ‘rent bidding’
  • Whether further controls for boarding houses are needed to provide adequate protection for boarding house tenants
  • Introducing new tools and processes into the compliance and enforcement system.

While some proposals are welcomed by landlords and property managers, some of the proposed changes, including increasing the termination notice period to 90 days would make problem tenancies significantly harder to deal with.

There has been a call from the New Zealand Property Investors Federation for stronger rules around rental payments to dissuade tenants from not paying.This could involve the ability to charge interest on outstanding rent, the ability to charge tenants’ credit cards or exemplary damages if they don’t pay their rent, and faster access to the Tenancy Tribunal for rent arrears cases.

Tony Alexander, Chief Economist at the Bank of New Zealand, predicts the regulations will make property owners more selective about who they allow into their properties, and rent rises when tenants change will likely increase while demand for state housing also rises. He said some investors would sell, worsening the housing shortage.

To find out more about the proposed changes visit the Ministry of Housing & Urban Development site –

https://www.hud.govt.nz/residential-housing/tenancy-and-rentals/changes-to-the-residential-tenancies-act-1986/reform-of-the-residential-tenancies-act-1986/

https://www.hud.govt.nz/residential-housing/healthy-rental-homes/healthy-homes-standards/

New Rules Proposed to Improve Health Standards of Rental Homes

house renovation. connect realty blog nz

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford has issued a consultation paper on minimum standards proposed under the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act, which the Government says must be in place by July 1st next year.

The proposed standards will set minimum requirements for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture and drainage, and draught stopping in residential rental properties. The public consultation paper examines issues and suggests options for each category.

The Minister said the proposed standards were “designed to eradicate the tens of thousands of health complaints resulting every winter from “damp, cold and mouldy” rental homes”. He also stated that the current Government is “committed to improving the quality of rental properties so that families living in rental properties are happier and healthier”.

The proposals come on the back of the Government’s Healthy Homes Guarantee Act passed in December. They will require all landlords to bring their rental properties up to the new health standards, except where those improvements are not practical.

Landlords who did not comply with the new standards could face a $4000 fine issued by the Tenancy Tribunal. It was unclear how many of the country’s rental properties would need to be modified, Twyford said.

PROPOSED RENTAL HOUSING STANDARDS

HEATING
Indoor temperature:
Option 1 – heaters able to maintain a temperature of at least 18 degC in applicable rooms
Option 2 – heaters able to maintain temperature of at least 20 degC
Heating devices:
Option 1 – landlords required to provide fixed heating devices only
Option 2 – landlords required to provide fixed and portable heating devices
Heating locations:
Option 1 – Heating provided in living room
Option 2 – Heating provided in bedrooms and living room

INSULATION
Minimum ceiling and underfloor insulation level:
Option 1 – no change from 1978 standard for existing insulation and 2008 Building Code standard for new installations
Option 2 – 2001 Building Code standard for existing insulation and 2008 Building Code standard for new installations
Option 3 – 2008 Building Code standard for existing and new insulation
Insulation degradation levels:
Option 1 – 30 per cent reduction classed as unreasonable
Option 2 – 10 per cent reduction classed as unreasonable

VENTILATION
Appropriate ventilation method:
Option 1 – No change: At least one window in all bathrooms, sufficiently-sized windows in other habitable rooms and adequate ventilation in non-habitable rooms
Option 2 – Openable windows in living room, dining room, kitchen, and bedrooms – unless exemption applies and bathrooms have extractor fan
Option 3 – Same as option two, plus extractor fan in rooms with indoor cooktop

MOISTURE AND DRAINAGE
Option 1 – No change: efficient drainage for removal of stormwater, surface water and ground water; gutters and drains to remove roof water; adequate ventilation to prevent floor dampness
Option 2 – addition of subfloor ground moisture barrier (81 per cent of rental homes do not have these)
DRAUGHT STOPPING
Option 1 – No change: Walls and ceilings sheathed, plastered, rendered and maintained; no crevices, holes or depressions in floor
Option 2 – Unused fireplaces and chimneys and gaps or holes bigger than three millimetres to be blocked

The discussion document and an online survey are available at www.mbie.govt.nz/healthy-homes Consultation is open for seven weeks with submissions closing at 6pm on Monday 22 October.

Real Estate In The Bay – The Latest REINZ Figures For Tauranga

Image of Tauranga apartment

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) has released their latest figures today and, according to the new data, Tauranga house prices have jumped 4.5 per cent.

The latest data shows the median house price in Taurangas jumped to $635,000 in July 2018 from $607,500 in July 2017. Interestingly though, However, the median house price dropped 3.1 per cent from $655,000 in June 2018 to $635,000 in July 2018.

According to the REINZ regional director Philip Searle, as quoted in the Bay of Plenty Times, the Bay of Plenty market was still seeing low stock levels with a number of new listings attracting multi-offers.

“Investor numbers are jumping and are up to 60 per cent of the total buyer interest, and most of the investors are locals who know the area well.”

Searle said the low listing numbers were keeping the prices strong with vendors’ expectations remaining at the same levels.

You can read the full Bay of Plenty Times article Here.

If you are thinking of buying an investment property in Tauranga, Connect Realty Ltd can provide local expertise and advice about the current housing market. We also have in place highly effective systems that set us apart from traditional real estate agencies. We offer a results driven solution for the management of your property investment. When we speak with you about your portfolio, we will discuss the now, the near future and the long term picture. As part of this we are able to discuss development plans to ensure you maximise the potential value of your investment portfolio.

Property is often the largest investment many of us will make, so it is worth the time to ensure you have the right team of industry professionals supporting you in reaching your goal, giving independent advise on where best to invest your money.