During the month the Federation held its annual general meeting and conference in Auckland.
AGM delegates were given an overview of political and regulatory settings confronting property investors and challenges for the coming 12 months. Delegates were also briefed on the ongoing task of maintaining effective working relationships with relevant key influencers.
The conference was as usual, attended by a Minister of the crown. Minister of Housing, the Hon Phil Heatley gave the keynote address and outlined some key reforms to be made in the housing/property regulatory environment including amendments to the Building Act, Resource Management Act, Unit Titles Act and the Residential Tenancies Act. The Government’s general approach was to eliminate red-tape, bureaucracy and compliance costs on industry.
Of direct interest for the Federation, the Minister indicated that the critical residential tenancies bill currently progressing through select committee would be reported back to Parliament by 5 October and the legislation could be passed by the end of the year.
Separately, Phil Heatly told delegates that the Government would “retain the status quo on capital gains tax”.
The Tenancy Tribunal has ruled and given certainty on a Housing New Zealand state house case of issuing a 90-day notice. The tribunal ruled in favour of Housing NZ eviction notice, after it argued it was simply seeking possession of its units, as it - and any other landlord - was entitled to do as long as correct procedures were followed.
During oral testimony to the Social Services Select Committee, on the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill, last month the Federation informed parliamentarians that if “just cause” had to be proven then it would be extremely difficult to remove problem tenants.
The tenants involved in the above “90-day” notice case have appealed to the Lower Hutt District Court, on the alleged breach of the gang member’s human rights.
The Social Services Select Committee completed the hearing of public oral testimony during the month.
The Committee is to draft its report and recommendations to Parliament by 5 October.
A “tax working group” reviewing New Zealand’s tax policy settings and challenges has held its second meeting. There will be several more before the end of the year. To date, the TWG and other commentators have talked about attacking property investors and landlords through introducing a capital gains tax, changing to the treatment of LAQCs, imposing land taxes, and imposing GST on rents and mortgage payments.
Whilst discussion of new taxes on property investors can be problematic, the Prime Minister John Key, Finance Minister Bill English and Housing Minister Phil Heatley have, several times, stated that a CGT is not an area they’ll go down. However, the TWG have not been told not to traverse this area.
Elsewhere the Green Party has again strongly urged the Government to implement a CGT.
The TWG is to put to the Government a set of reform options and host a public conference in December.