Housing minister Megan Woods has made three announcements this morning on changes for the rental sector.
The first fulfills a Labour party manifesto commitment in 2020 to regulate residential property managers. Residential property managers will have to be registered, trained and licensed, and complaints and disciplinary matters will be dealt with through a new regulatory framework.
“This means that like many other professions such as real estate agents, builders and lawyers, they will have conduct and competency standards to abide by and if they don’t, they can be held to account,” said Woods
“Nearly one in three households rent their homes and 42% of these tenancies are managed by residential property managers, so they have a lot of access to rental homes and interaction with tenants. Having safeguards to ensure they meet minimum conduct and competency standards is in the best interests of both property owners and tenants,” she said.
The government will also consult the public before making binding rules on what an acceptable maximum allowable level of methamphetamine residue is, at what levels those homes need to be decontaminated to, and when tenancies can be terminated due to high levels of residue. Confusion over meth testing standards has been in the spotlight since 2018, when a report from former Chief Science Advisor Peter Gluckman found that no one was ever found to have gotten sick from the residue left over when someone smokes meth in a house.
“Currently there are two levels used – neither of which are legally binding – which create uncertainty for landlords and tenants,” Woods said.”
The proposals recommend a maximum acceptable level of surface methamphetamine residue of 15 micrograms per 100 square centimetres which is in keeping with Gluckman’s findings and advice from ESR.
Finally, the government is giving private landlords, Kāinga Ora, and community housing providers more time to comply with the Healthy Homes standards. Legislation will be introduced in the House today and passed under urgency before the end of the parliamentary year, to ensure certainty for landlords.
Private landlords have one more year to comply. Private rentals must comply by July 1, 2025, instead of July, 1 2024. The timeframe for compliance for a new or renewed tenancy shifts from 90 days to 120 days. Kāinga Ora and community housing providers have until July, 1 2024.
The Green party has responded to the announcements saying the government’s decision to exclude landlords from property management regulations “means more than half of kiwi rentals will be left out in the cold.” The party took the opportunity to once again advocate for its rental warrant of fitness and landlord and property register policies saying where the government is “kicking the can down the road on Healthy Homes standards, the government falls short on the basics that a rental warrant of fitness would fix.”
National’s housing spokesperson Chris Bishop said the extension of the Healthy Homes standards deadline for landlords comes as no surprise.
“The majority of private landlords have done the right thing, followed the rules and upgraded properties. This is a giant slap in the face from a government that simply can’t get anything done,” said Bishop. “It was one rule for them, and one rule for the government,” he said.
The Act party took credit for the Healthy Homes standards extension being granted to private landlords after it brought the issue to light last week.
“Thanks to Act exposing this, housing minister Megan Woods has now said that the extension is not just for Kainga Ora, everyone will get it,” said Act’s housing spokesperson Brooke van Velden.