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Tough Times For Investors

Anti-landlord rhetoric is strong in this cycle, says Andrew King, but investors should be proud to provide the service they do.

By: Andrew King

1 August 2016

I was expecting this year to be relatively quiet on the advocacy front, but oh boy, how wrong I was.

The last few months have been extraordinary, with a huge level of uninformed opinion blaming rental property investors for increasing house prices, tenants are no longer responsible for damage they accidently or even carelessly cause, the meth issue is exploding and Labour announced they are targeting speculators but instead their policies were aimed at rental property providers.

To be honest, I'm feeling pretty worn out and I imagine I'm not the only one. Before a media interview I was talking to a cameraman who had recently sold his rental property. This was just before the Minimum Standards were due to come into effect, but he said that was just one of the reasons for selling. A point he made was that people had such a negative attitude to rental property owners that it made him feel uncomfortable.

This was quite incredible to hear. It isn't as if he is selling drugs outside schools or investing in companies selling cigarettes, weapons or using child slave labour. He is (or was) providing people with somewhere to live.

But in some people's eyes this makes him a monster. He is getting wealthy off the misery of others, forcing them to live in squalid conditions and pay exorbitant rents, just itching to kick them out in the snow if they miss one rental payment. He is depriving the young of getting a home of their own and forcing them into a lifetime of renting. He is causing interest rates to be too high and hurting our economy and he probably had a hand in getting Trump in line to be President.

People have never liked property price increases, but it is hard to know why the anti-rental property rhetoric is so strong this time around.

This is the fourth property cycle I have experienced and every time there are cries that the young will never be able to afford a home of their own. Fortunately, I was unaware of these sentiments in the early 80s when I was part of the “young” and so saved for a home deposit and got a second job to pay the mortgage once I did buy a property.

Back then, well meaning people were trying to help me and my young peers by pointing out our plight, but now I'm firmly part of the problem.

It is shocking how perfectly normal statistics, such as the percentage of investors buying property, are being used to make a case against us and fuel the negative sentiment.

Opinions are treated as facts. So many people have said investors are out-bidding first home buyers and pushing up house prices that it is now considered a fact. However, CoreLogic data shows first home buyers on average pay more for properties than investors.

The Property Investors' Federation is working hard to provide a voice for our industry in the media. We have had meetings with the Insurance Council, The Tenancy Tribunal, government departments and MPs. Along with the Independent Property Managers Association we are on the NZ Standards Meth Committee.

I'll be providing information in this monthly column on what is being achieved in that regard, but in the mean time don't forget that we provide people with homes to live in. Without us the number of tenants living in overcrowded properties, garages and cars will increase. We should be proud of what we do.

It is shocking how perfectly normal statistics, such as the percentage of investors buying property, are being used to make a case against us and fuel the negative sentiment - Andrew King

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