The following is a summary of the political or regulatory news or comment affecting the residential property market.
A lot has happened in property Politics over the past month. Both the Reserve Bank and Government have bowed to public/media pressure to "Do Something" about property prices in Auckland. The majority of the measures are aimed at reducing demand from people buying rental property and speculators.
The Reserve Bank has changed rules on loan to value ratios, making it harder to buy Auckland rental property, but easier in other parts of the country. These policies will come into effect on October 1.
Government then introduced a Bright Line test to clearly state that any profit made on an investment property sold within two years of purchase would be taxed at the sellers' marginal tax rate. Although applying to investors (rental property providers) this tax was really aimed at speculators or traders.
Two concerns have emerged from this policy. One is that some rental property owners suffering a serious issue not of their making, such as a terminal illness or losing their employment, and having to sell their rental within two years would have to pay the tax. This appears unreasonable given that any other business or investment suffering the same situation wouldn't have to pay such a tax.
The second concern is that some commentators have said that the measures don't go far enough and the bright line test should be extended to five, ten or more years. This would effectively change the policy from one targeting traders and speculators to a Capital Gains Tax on rental property. These commentators appear not to realise that measures that make it harder for people to provide rental properties will ultimately affect tenants.
Like a wrestling tag team, the Reserve Bank came back to the fight and announced proposals to increase the cost of borrowing for non-owner occupied residential properties, because they deem these loans to be a higher risk.
The bank used a weak link to a report on Ireland that suggested rental property loans defaulted more than owner occupied in a severe property downturn. The measures increase the risk weighting that banks must hold against non-owner occupied residential property loan. Banks have yet to suggest how this may affect the mortgage interest rate price that rental property owners must pay.
The latest measure to be released was minimum standards for rental property. This policy hasn't been released by Government yet, but some media have suggested that the release is imminent.
Government have categorically stated that a rental property WOF is not a good idea as it will reduce rental property supply and increase rental prices.
Indications are that minimum standards for rental property will be introduced instead. These will focus on insulation and smoke alarms. The NZPIF have consistently said that this is where the focus of rental property improvements should lie, with tax deductions applied to reduce the impact on rental prices. The NZPIF is to meet with Inland Revenue officials to discuss this.
The issue was brought to the fore by the tragic death of Emma-Lita Bourne, whose housing conditions could not be ruled out as a contributing factor to her death. If this is true, then neither a WOF or minimum standards could have helped her, as the reason for the house being cold was that her family couldn't afford to turn on their heater.
The NZPIF believe that children with existing health issues from living in cold housing conditions should receive electricity vouchers over the winter months. Reports show that Government saves more on health expenditure when funds are applied to heating and insulation. Therefore it appears to be a good use of Government funds and would have a dramatic effect on at risk children's lives.
The NZPIF is working on this issue with the Children's Commission and Otago Medical School.
MINISTERIAL SPEECHES OVER THE LAST MONTH
17 June - Govt welcomes draft Productivity Commission report on housing - Bill English Read more
4 JUNE, 2015 - Housing Accord on target at midpoint - Nick Smith. Read more
22 MAY, 2015 - Social Housing Reform Bill passed into law - Paula Bennett. Read more
22 MAY, 2015 - New guidance on home construction - Nick Smith. Read more
22 MAY, 2015 - Minister welcomes $74 million for tax compliance - Todd McClay. Read more
21 MAY, 2015 - Children in Hardship Bill passes first reading - Anne Tolley. Read more
21 MAY, 2015 - $35.3m invested to improve MÄori housing - Te Ururoa Flavell. Read more
21 MAY, 2015 - Fund to facilitate Auckland housing development - Nick Smith. Read more
21 MAY, 2015 - Commitment to improved social housing - Paula Bennett. Read more
21 MAY, 2015 - Budget 2015: At a Glance - Bill English. Read more
21 MAY, 2015 - Help for families at heart of responsible Budge - Bill English. Read more
19 MAY, 2015 - Emergency management of buildings to change - Nick Smith. Read more
ISSUES UNDER WATCH
Building (Earthquake-prone buildings) Amendment Bill
(Nat: Nick Smith)
Sets a requirement for buildings to be earthquake strengthened – also applies to multi-storey or multi-unit residential buildings
Bill referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee. Submissions closed: 17 Apr 2014. Committee report due: 30 July 2015
Energy Efficiency and Conservation (Warm Healthy Rentals Warrant of Fitness) Amendment Bill
(Greens: Metiria Turei)
Through the introduction of a “WoF” regime require minimum energy performance standards for all residential rental accommodation
Bill awaiting first reading
State house WOF trial
Trialling a WOF system on 500 state houses
Minister of Building & Housing decision on trial was due by the end of 2014. No date yet announced.
(Department of Internal Affairs)
The Rules Reduction Taskforce is looking at updating housing and property rules in New Zealand. They are looking for rules or issues that people find frustrating.
Submissions closed 1 June. Awaiting report
Support for Children in Hardship Bill
strengthens work expectations and increases assistance for parents on a benefit and who have dependent children from 1 April 2016.
Referred to the Social Services Select Committee. Submissions due 8 July 2015