'Ghost Home' Owners Resist The Landlord Lifestyle
One in five owners of empty houses have pulled out of a survey asking if they would be willing to join the rental market.
1 November 2022
Some empty home owners are not willing to become landlords.
One in five participants pulled out of a $500,000 survey and investigation by Wise Group, and paid for by the government, when asked whether they would be willing to put their empty houses into the rental market.
Wise Group says it was the biggest drop-off and 22.6 per cent of participants did not answer the question or any following that.
Landlords who responded to the survey say they feel vilified and targeted by recent government regulatory and tax changes.
They cited negative perceptions and attitudes towards landlords as a barrier to renting houses and say tenants and the general public are often unaware of the realities and, in recent times, the increasing costs of being a landlord.
One empty house owner says “more houses need to be built in order to address the supply/demand problem, but demonising landlords and discouraging property investment is not going to work”.
Another says, “the government is creating an environment where it’s OK for people to abuse a landlord’s goodwill. I’m just an ordinary person who would happily rent out my house, but am completely without protection or incentive to do that now.”
A third says, “Will not be renting three properties out at the moment as current government is very unpredictable and unsure what further changes will be thrown at providers of rental properties next. Feel very insecure that we have lost control of our properties and do not want to risk moving anyone else in as it will be too difficult to move them out if a wrong tenant is selected that may ruin the house.”
Common reasons for not becoming a landlord related to protecting their investment and tenant matters.
These included concerns about how the property might be used; past negative experience with tenants; potential changes made to the property; selecting the right tenants; perceived imbalance of rights between tenants and landlords; negative experience with Tenancy Services; property managers; and managing the property themselves.
The cost and ability to meet Healthy Homes standards appeared frequently in comments.
Empty home owners are also worried about the financial viability of being a landlord and want trustworthy and reliable tenants, which is hard to achieve they say because of a range of unintended consequences related to changes in the Residential Tenancies Act.
Respondents also predicted there will be fewer homes available for long-term rental and more homes will sit empty, although the report noted higher costs and interest rates will probably create financial strain on some investors, incentivising them to put their properties up for rent.
The government has now scrapped plans to fill so-called “ghost houses”, but despite this Wise Group says it will support other organisations through an Empty Homes Starter Kit, produced as part of the project. It is freely available online.