What I believe to be a significant event in New Zealand’s Rental Property Industry occurred during the NZPIF AGM in Wellington last month. Associations voted to accept the NZPIF’s Strategic Plan, which included the employment of an Executive Officer and a Communications Officer, each on a part time basis.
I was extremely grateful to the vast majority of Associations who voted to have the strategy adopted, as the position of President over the last 5 or 6 years has increased beyond what can realistically be expected of a voluntary role.
All the industry organisations that have an impact on the rental industry are managed by paid employees (some very handsomely) on a full time basis. This includes Government departments, media outlets, the Finance Industry that often attacks us and even the tenant groups we work with.
The closely related Property Council has at least 10 key employees and is overseen by a full time Chief Executive Officer.
There are approximately 400,000 rental properties in New Zealand worth around $107b. They generate around $8.3b in rents which is equivalent to more than 4% of New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product. Private rental property owners provide homes for around 27% of New Zealand’s population.
We are an essential part of the New Zealand economy and of critical and personal importance to the tenants who rely on us to provide them with a home.
Although we should be held in high regard given the importance of the work we do, we are often misunderstood and abused. We are frequently attacked in the media and are up against many organisations that would do us harm in providing good accommodation for a reasonable return.
Given all these factors it is incredible that up to this point our $9b industry is still represented primarily by volunteers.
The matter was brought to a head due to my own personal circumstances. It has been taking approximately three days a week to fulfil the President’s role and I just didn’t have this amount of time available. Over the past year or two my business commitments have increased and I simply wasn’t able to carry out the President’s duties to the level that I believe is required. Faced with having to commit to another year as President, I just couldn’t.
No other member of the NZPIF Executive was in a position to take on the role, which led us to a dilemma. It was possible that I could free up more time to devote to the NZPIF if I hired someone to help in my business, but frankly I was not prepared to do this. The idea was put forward to increase the Presidents honorarium to $25,000 a year, which I could then use to employ help for my business.
This was put to Associations who agreed in principle to the increased honorarium, with the requirement that the NZPIF Strategic Plan should be updated. During work on the Strategic Plan it was decided that many of the Presidents current duties could be better carried out by an Executive Officer and Communications Officer. These roles would principally be lobbying, dealing with the media, developing and managing membership discounts and providing better information to PIA Committees and their members.
The fact that Associations have agreed to this move is a big step in treating rental property as the important industry it is. This step will help to ensure that property investors’ continue to have the representation that is truly required.