Rents on the RISE: Trade Me Property warns tenants that there are “ominous signs” of rent rises on the horizon. The latest Rental Price Index shows that the national median rent remained at an all time high of $480 per week for the month of September, up 6.7% year-on-year. According to Nigel Jefferies, head of Trade Me Property, this could just be the “calm before the summer storm”. Winter rent prices remained relatively steady this year instead of taking the dips normally seen. Around the country some regions have seen strong double-digit year-on-year growth with median rents in the likes of Marlborough up 20%, the West Coast up 19.1% and both Otago and Hawkes Bay up 16.9%.
Don’t remove 90-day notice: Various groups, including the Independent Property Managers Association (IPMA) and NZ Property Investors Federation (NZPIF) have warned the Government not to remove a landlord’s ability to issue 90 day ‘no stated cause’ notices to difficult tenants. As we have outlined in previous newsletters the Governments extensive overhaul of the tenancy laws includes removing no clause terminations. We agree with the likes of the IPMA and NZPIF in their opposition to this change. In our experience the 90-day notice is used as a ‘last resort’ due to a tenant’s behavior and there being insufficient evidence to satisfy the tenancy tribunal. Other issues on the table include limiting rental increases, allowing tenants to make modifications to the rental property and allowing pets.
The Meth myth. Should we still test? Here at Propertyscouts we like to think that we take a common-sense approach to problems. Take the Meth (methamphetamine) situation for example. While other companies were charging hundreds of dollars for lab-based testing at the start and end of every tenancy we decided on a simpler, cost effective, ‘risk based’ sampling system. Firstly, we took account of what we knew about the property, and its previous inhabitants, and then we utelised a simple, cost effective and immediate sampling system. The sampling tests we use are used by law enforcement agencies around the world, and as the old saying goes “if it’s good enough for them…”. Unless you’ve been on Mars you will be aware of the staggering number of landlords who have carried tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of remediation on meth contaminated rental properties. And most of it was probably all for ‘naught’ according to the Governments (now retired) head scientist, Sir Peter Gluckman. So, should we still be testing for meth contamination in rental properties, and if so what level of contamination should we be concerned about? Before Gluckmans ‘insight’ we relied on a level of 1.5Ug/100cm2 which was the level proposed by Standards NZ. Gluckmans report indicated a much higher threshold of 15 Ug/100cm2 and, pretty soon after the release of the report, this level was accepted by the largest landlord in the land – Housing NZ. Up until very recently the Tenancy Tribunal ‘sat on the fence’ over the whole saga but have now come out in support of the level indicated by Gluckman. There is in our view still a very strong case for cost effective meth screening between tenancies. Firstly, levels above 15 are still considered unsafe. Secondly, if a property tests as clear for meth contamination at the beginning of a tenancy and over the (now) accepted level of 15 at the end of a tenancy – we want to know who to blame. And thirdly tenants like to know that they are going into a property that is not contaminated and the fact that they know a property has been tested at the start of their tenancy helps keeping them ‘honest’ in this regard.