Otago Property Investors Association Inc

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News & Updates

Recent updates

28-09-2007

Residential Tenancies

These included:

  • Lifting of the Tenancy Tribunal’s monetary jurisdiction to $50,000 from $12,000 and through new sanctions
  • Increasing the monetary threshold on the automatic right to use legal representation
  • Clearer and fairer processes for terminating and renewing tenancies
  • New rights of entry for appraisals by real estate agents and building inspectors
  • Allowing landlords to recover reasonable debt collection costs incurred in enforcing Tenancy Tribunal orders through a private debt collection agency
  • Clarifying responsibility for outgoings such as electricity, rates and water
  • Allowing some tenant breaches eg sub-letting, assigning a tenancy without consent, over-populating the premises or becoming a problem neighbour to become unlawful acts that can result in exemplary damages being awarded, as an alternative to eviction
  • Making a tenant’s liability for damage limited to four times the weekly rent, if the tenant did not cause the damage intentionally or recklessly intentionally or recklessly encourage or permit another person to damage the premises.

It is expected that the Minister will provide additional details when he gives the keynote address to delegates at the Annual Conference in Christchurch later next month.

A Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill is slated for introduction into the House by the end of this year.

UNIT TITLES ACT – Reforms

In the same address, the Minister also outlined the direction of proposed changes to the Unit Titles Act. He said the legislation would recognise that people were living more and more in apartment style living and that an easy, flexible system where the rules were certain and suitable decisions can be easily made.

A bill amending the Unit Titles Act is nearly complete and may be introduced into the House later this year or early next year.

TAX - ASSOCIATED PERSONS & TRUSTS

Press reports indicate that progress on the Government's proposed changes to the "associated persons" tax rules have slowed.

To recap, the review was another bid to discourage property investment, in the belief that the way people are using the current rules provides ways to beat tax system which is claimed to favour such investment.

It is speculated that IRD work on Kiwisaver and other areas is currently taking up a lot of IRD resources – hence the “delay”.

Elsewhere, changes to trust law are imminent. The Trustee Amendment Bill is to be introduced into Parliament shortly. Amongst its aims the Bill is expected to clarify rules for trustees. The Bill should be of interest to the Federation as a number of property investors operate a trust.

INSOLVENCY LAW REFORM – No Asset Procedure (NAP)

In July the Minister of Commerce, Lianne Dalziel commenced the seeking of approval from Cabinet for regulations to be made to the Insolvency Act 2006 (which was passed in November 2006).

The new regulations prescribe various matters relating to bankruptcy and other personal insolvency proceedings.

Of interest to the Federation is the provision related to the “No Asset Procedure” (NAP) for debtors.

This applies to first time debtors who have no assets and who cannot repay debts (up to $40,000). Evidently, it is less punitive than the normal personal bankruptcy proceedings (which can flag credit ratings, impede overseas travel, etc).

An issue for landlords is the provision may enable former tenants to abdicate their responsibility to their debt including rent arrears.

The regulations are to be drafted such that a means test for admission into the NAP is to be established. This will be based on whether the applicant's income and income from any related persons, taking into account their and their dependents' living expenses, is sufficient to pay their debts. Further creditors will be able to object to the debtor’s entry into the NAP and a Register of debtors will be established (to alert potential creditors).

It is envisaged that the Insolvency Regulations will come into force on 3 December 2007. The Federation’s interest in inputting into the finalisation of the draft regulations has been registered with the Insolvency and Trustee Service at the Ministry of Economic Development. Meantime, there will be a close monitoring of the developments.

HOUSING AFFORDABILITY REVIEW – Oral hearings continue

The Commerce Select committee met on 13 & 20 September to hear further submissions on the inquiry into housing affordability in New Zealand.

The committee will next meet on 11 October.

INQUIRY INTO THE MONETARY POLICY – CTU submission

The Finance and Expenditure Select committee met on 5 & 12 September to hear evidence on the inquiry into the future monetary policy framework.

A submission of interest to the Federation was the testimony of the Council of Trade Unions (CTU).

The CTU told the committee that additional measures to address house price inflation was needed. “This included a more rigorous capital gains tax on investment properties, increasing housing supply and removing the ability to offset losses on investment properties against other income”.

Significantly, the CTU is a key Labour Party supporter.

The committee next meets on Wednesday 10 October.

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