Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of reflecting in the House of Representatives by retiring Members of Parliament including me. Many MPs referred to both the best and worst sides of the job in their valedictory speeches. On the positive side, the ability to serve your community and make changes to the law to achieve better outcomes for New Zealanders are among the key drivers for MPs from all sides of the House. Some of the most difficult parts of the job are facing intense media scrutiny and having to spend a lot of time away from your loved ones.
In my valedictory speech I spoke about the need for us to continue to attract well-educated and passionate people into politics to represent us and of my fear that the harsh environment and criticism levelled at MPs could put people off from putting themselves forward for selection. I am relieved to see that so far this has not been the case locally with the recent announcement that Megan Hands has been selected as National’s candidate for Rangitata for the upcoming election. Megan will make an excellent MP and has my full support. With the economic challenges our country is facing, we need representatives that have a clear appreciation of the backbone of our local economy – our farmers, growers and small businesses.
Unfortunately one of the last laws passed in the House by the current government illustrated their lack of understanding of the wider world of houses, landlords and tenants. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill will make it very difficult for landlords to remove anti-social tenants who are disrupting their neighbours with loud parties and aggressive behaviour. Under the new law, landlords will no longer be able to end such a tenancy by giving 90 days’ notice. Instead they will have to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal with three examples of anti-social behaviour over a three month-period in order to remove troublesome tenants.
This approach of treating all landlords as unscrupulous people who want to kick good tenants out on the street for no reason is a nonsense. The majority of landlords are understandably keen to keep good tenants on but they should have the right to give tenants notice when they are behaving unacceptably.
The problem with the Government placing more onerous requirements and costs on landlords is that it will drive existing landlords out of the market and deter others from becoming landlords. If less people think it is worth the hassle of renting out their properties, then there will be less rental properties available and this will drive rents up further, so that ultimately it is the tenants who will bear the brunt of this law change.
If there are less private rentals available then this will make even more New Zealanders dependent on state housing. It is policies like the Government’s rental standards that have seen the social housing wait list skyrocket and triple in size under this Government.