Author: Jacob Mcsweeny

The president of an Otago landlords group says a National Party MP’s claim the region’s rents have risen at almost twice the national average rate is fraught because it compares the wrong dates.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has accused the Government of having poor policies that led to a $93 increase in average rent in Otago since September 2017, compared with the national increase of $55.

Otago Property Investors Association president Kathryn Seque said that comparison did not work in Otago because student rents distorted the numbers.

"The MP that’s released it doesn’t know the Dunedin student market and doesn’t know how that skews the results for November and December," Ms Seque said.

"If you compare September [2017] with September this year it’s actually only about $54.

"There’s obviously the higher rents in the student area. [Bonds] tend to get lodged around November, December, which pushes the average rental up."

Ms Seque did agree with Mrs Dean that the Government’s policies had caused rents to go up, and said the policies had hurt landlords.

"The policy changes that she’s stating that have affected rent is true.

"If you go back to 2017 that’s when everybody had to put all the insulation in which we were all for ... Obviously that increased costs to landlords."

She said rates rises and increasing insurance costs — sometimes double — also put the pinch on landlords.

Proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), which further restricted landlords’ abilities to evict tenants, would lead to many leaving the market.

"With the RTA reform ... more and more landlords will sell forcing a lot of rentals to become homes, first home buyer homes, displacing a lot of people causing even more of a housing crisis and rents will rise even more."

In response to Mrs Dean’s comments, the Government’s duty minister, Nanaia Mahuta, said supply was the biggest issue for the rental market.

"That's why you see increases in the areas where we have a lack of houses," she said.

"The nine years of neglect by the last Government will take time to fix but we are making good progress."

She said the Government had made available 3381 public housing places, most of which were new builds.

Note from Nighthawk.NZ:

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