Landlords need to take better care of their tenants

It’s a mystery to me why some landlords, with a property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, would allow it to fall into disrepair.

This not only lowers the value of the property (and has an impact on neighbouring homes), it causes stress to the tenants and has knock-on effects such as health issues and higher heating bills. (A hole in the roof will do that.)

Some landlords think it’s okay to have a leaky roof, causing tenants to place a bucket on the floor to catch rainwater, according to one tenant featured in the NZ Herald’s Property Report. Another property owner expects their tenant to carry out repairs for them.

It seems landlords are free to ignore requests from tenants to carry out essential maintenance. Tenants are often reluctant to take matters further for fear of being given notice to quit. It’s like something out of Medieval Britain.

I know of one person who won’t complain to their landlord about leaky guttering and a broken oven for fear of the rent going up – they are just making ends meet as it is. Is this how people are expected to live? In fear?

And with notice periods of 42 or 90 days; how are families supposed to settle in a community?

One thing is for sure, absent landlords — who are living offshore — add to the issues faced by tenants who have no direct line to the person they are paying rent to.

And while a property manager is required to be appointed by an absent landlord, these ‘managers’ are not licensed, and in once case I know about doesn’t speak the same language as their tenant. So the ‘Property Manager’ does nothing when issues are raised.

It is high time the law was changed to give tenants security of tenure; so they can make a home and provide their children with a solid base. Having the shadow of a notice to quit over you is no way to live in a modern and progressive country.

Landlords should also be required by law to keep their properties up to code.

House building

Who would want to be in minister Phil Twyford’s shoes? While the previous government robustly denied there was a housing crisis, people were routinely found sleeping in the streets and in cars — if they were lucky enough to own one.

Some homeowners (and renters) converted their garage into “living” accommodation without resource consent.

Now Labour has completed a stock take, the housing/homeless landscape is worse than we were led to believe. And although we could point fingers in a blame game, the bottom line is, it is Labour’s problem to fix.

Thankfully, there should be some harmony between Auckland Council and Central Government; because issues this large cannot be fixed by the city council without support.

Twyford, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, is hoping a Government-backed housing plan will allow private firms to build small homes on small sections that will be funded by the banks. In other words, the Government will under-write private home building schemes.

That’s all well and good. But the Government also needs to ensure those unable to get a mortgage have the safety net of state housing at rents that won’t leave their children hungry.