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'Impossible to compete' - woman subject to price bidding to rent a home welcomes proposed changes to Tenancy Act

A Wellington renter who has been subject to price bidding in the hunt for a home is welcoming the Government’s proposed changes to make renting more fair and secure for tenants.

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The Government wants to ban rental price bidding and limit rent increase to once a year. Source: 1 NEWS

“You come across questions such as how much are you willing to pay or that kind of thing and it's just impossible to compete with the amount of people who are there,” student Kelsey Lee said.

The Government’s proposing banning bidding wars through an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act, among a sweep of moves to bring the out-of-date 1986 legislation into line with New Zealand’s increasing rental rate.

Around a million Kiwis rent in New Zealand - a third of the population, compared to a quarter in 1986.

Ms Lee also said changes to limit rent increases to once a year and making a successful party’s details anonymous in Tenancy Tribunal decisions will start to address the power imbalance between renters and landlords.

“In the past I’ve had experiences where we’ve wanted to take a landlord to the tribunal but we’ve made a decision as a group not to because we’ve been so worried about the impact that it might have on finding future flats,” she said.

“Everyone should have the right to a decent house and to have some stability in that as well, which we don’t have.”

Ms Lee said the Government needs to address rental stock and affordability to make a real difference for renters.

Auckland Action Against Poverty coordinator Ricardo Menendez March said the changes are a start but don’t go far enough to set rental increases.

“Because we can have rent increases once a year, they’ll be just twice as much as they used to be now that we have these new regulations,” he said.

Mr Menendez March is calling on the Government to introduce caps on rental prices.

The proposals are being broadly welcomed by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand’s chief executive Bindi Norwell, but she said banning the termination of ongoing tenancies for no cause could have consequences for supply.

“If you make it really difficult for people to manage their own property effectively and to be able to deal with extreme behaviour I think this will impact landlords decision on actually having a property and owning a property because it will make it very difficult for them to be able to deal with it effectively.

“This will really remove potential rights for being able to deal with people that are destroying homes and anti-social behaviour,” she said.