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PoliticsOctober 12, 2023

Election 2023: The housing policies in two minutes


If you’re a renter it’s probably your biggest expense, if you’re a homeowner it’s probably your biggest asset. So what do the parties want to do about housing? Here’s the two-minute version – see for more.

See more from our policy in two minutes series here.

Polling during the past two elections showed housing was far and away the most important issue. It ranked at the top of the IPSOS issues monitor from 2018, when the poll began, until February 2022, but it has now dropped to third behind inflation/cost of living and crime/law and order. 

While it might not be number one any more, housing never really leaves voters’ minds: if you’re a renter it’s probably your biggest weekly expense and if you’re a homeowner it’s probably your biggest asset. 

Building more houses

A large part of the reason New Zealand’s housing market is so crazy expensive is because for decades councils have restricted the number of houses that can be built – think excessive heritage and character protections, Nimby neighbours who can complain to stop new builds, and strict rules on height limits. Some of the most important policies up for debate this election are aiming to fix that. 

Labour passed two very important pieces of housing policy with two very boring names, both based around preventing councils from stopping new housing. The National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) means six-storey apartments are allowed anywhere within walking distance of a centre city or a railway station. The Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) mean developers are allowed to build three-storey townhouses on basically every section in a major city. The Greens and TOP support both of these policies. 

New zoning rules have allowed townhouses and apartments in more areas.

National will keep the NPS-UD, but wants to give councils the ability to withdraw from the MDRS. They will still make the council’s zone for growth – but this will probably mean more distant suburbs rather than growth in the centre of towns. National also wants to give councils money to reward them for consenting more buildings – starting with $25,000 per dwelling above their previous average. 

The Greens want to introduce development bonuses that will allow property developers to build a third higher than zoning allows if the building is universally accessible or environmentally friendly. 

Act opposes the MDRS but would be happy with two-storey townhouses by default. It would let developers build above zoning rules if 70% of the homeowners on the street approved. NZ First opposes the NPS-UD and the MDRS. 

First home buyers

Labour introduced the progressive home ownership fund, which included various shared equity and rent-to-own options, most notably the First Home Partner scheme.

Act wants to abolish both the progressive home ownership scheme and the First Home Grant. National supports the First Home Grant and says it supports the “concept” of progressive home ownership, but has criticised the government’s execution of the scheme.

The Greens want to expand the progressive home ownership schemes, and provide government-backed mortgage refinancing for people who bought their first home in the past four years  and are at risk of hardship due to interest rate increases. 

NZ First wants a select committee inquiry to look into improved policy for first homes.


Labour would require property managers to be registered – but with an exception for landlords who manage their own properties. The government also banned no-cause terminations, and limited rent increases to once a year. 

National wants to bring back no-cause evictions and remove the rollover of fixed-term tenancies into periodic tenancies. 

New Zealand is behind other OECD countries on renter rights. (Image: Tina Tiller)

The Greens want to stop landlords from being allowed to increase the rent by more than 3% each year, add a rental warrant of fitness, a landlord register, and introduce new warm bedroom requirements. 

Act would allow landlords to issue a 90-day notice without providing a reason or applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, and wants to let landlords charge an extra bond for pets. 

Public housing

Labour is promising 27,000 new public houses by 2027, and the Greens want even more public houses: a target of 35,000 in the next five years. 

Rather than government-built public houses, National prefers to fund community housing providers; charities that build and own houses for low-income families and receive government subsidies in exchange for low rents. 

TOP also liked the subsidised housing model and wants to bring in a $3 billion development fund for community housing providers to build more homes. The Greens want to scale up community housing providers even further with a government-backed underwrite to help new developments get off the ground. 

The Greens want Kainga Ora to build more prefabricated houses and give long-term contracts to manufacturers. They would also expand the Income Related Rental Subsidy to council tenants. 

NZ First generally wants more social housing for seniors, and Te Pāti Māori wants 50% of new public housing to be allocated to Māori. 

National wants to create a “Social Impact Bond” to pay providers who can shift families out of emergency housing into more stable homes, and are promising families who have been in emergency housing for more than 12 weeks will be moved to the front of the queue. 

Act’s public housing policies are mostly about making it easier to evict disruptive Kāinga Ora tenants and move them to the bottom of both the public housing and emergency housing waitlists.


To build new houses, you need basic infrastructure: pipes, electricity, roads and flood management. That stuff is really expensive, and it relies on the support of councils and government to build and operate. 

Labour has introduced a $1 billion Infrastructure Acceleration Fund to support councils and developers to build infrastructure, which it says will enable up to 35,000 new homes. 

National has its own plans to encourage new infrastructure, including some legal reforms for council debt, and new rules that require infrastructure for new subdivisions to be paid for by the homeowners and developers through special rates or levies, rather than being spread across the entire community. 

NZ First wants a Ministry of Infrastructure to help unlock new land to be developed into housing. 

ACT and TOP both want to return GST on new residential builds back to local councils to fund new infrastructure.


Interest deductibility on investment properties is a sweet tax break for landlords and is a hot topic this election. 

The Labour government cancelled interest deductibility with the exception of new builds, which incentivised investors to buy new developments rather than compete with owner-occupiers on older homes. National, Act and NZ First have all promised to bring back interest deductibility for landlords.

Another biggie is the bright line test, a form of capital gains tax on property bought and sold within a certain timeframe. Labour expanded the test to 10 years, National wants to bring it back to two years, and Act wants to get rid of it entirely. 

TOP wants to remove both the bright line test and interest deductibility and swap it for a Land Value Tax of 0.75% of the value of urban residential land, paid annually. The Greens have proposed a Wealth Tax of 2.5% on all assets above a $4 million threshold.   

Te Pāti Māori wants a capital gains tax on all property set at 2% of the appreciation per annum – other than on the whānau home, as well as introduce a tax on undeveloped land and vacant home. 

National would partially reverse the foreign home buyers ban for sales of homes worth more than $2 million with a 15% tax on the sale price.

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