More needs to be done about the slumlords | The Jackal

22 Jun 2021

More needs to be done about the slumlords

It always amazes me to see the illogical arguments made by real estate industry insiders when they’re complaining about any type of housing sector regulation. They simply don't seem to care if their arguments make any sense or whether their unbound greed is worsening an already terrible housing crisis that appears to have no end in sight.

When Healthy Homes Standards were first announced for instance a large number of slumlords were so incensed with the Government’s plan to make rental houses healthier that they threatened to leave their properties empty instead of fixing them up. 

Nearly four years on from the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act passing into law, plus a number of other housing policy initiatives, and that odious threat has now unfortunately become reality for many struggling New Zealanders. 

Yesterday, the NZ Herald (Paywalled) reported:

Landlords selling up in the Bay of Plenty sparking fears of future slums

Some landlords are selling up after the introduction of new regulations and property managers warn the emergence of developers in the marketplace could open the door to future slums.

No exact figures were available but data from Tenancy Services shows in the Bay of Plenty active bond numbers had dropped by 177 in one year.

Meanwhile, Trade Me statistics revealed demand for rental properties across the region had consistently outweighed supply.

Core Logic said the market share for mortgaged investors in both Tauranga and Rotorua had held but acknowledged some landlords would have no choice but to sell if they could not cover their higher tax bills.

Why am I not surprised that most Bay of Plenty slumlords who emptied their rental properties haven't got any mortgages to pay, which just goes to show what selfish pricks they really are. It also makes the argument that many landlords are getting out of the market because of low returns highly questionable. Owning a rental without a mortgage is incredibly lucrative and something most Kiwis can only dream of.

One landlord, who had investment properties for 23 years, said she would be selling off most of her portfolio after calculated returns of .7 per cent due to ''ridiculous'' government regulations and increased costs.

Well cry me a river. Perhaps if this landlord had maintained her numerous properties properly she wouldn’t now be having such large overheads? But instead of using some of the returns she received over 23 long years of largely untaxed income, this slumlord is likely to just throw families out onto the street to fend for themselves.

So bereft of any conscience that they simply don’t care if their fellow Kiwis stay warm and dry during winter, many slumlords would rather not receive rent from people they often view as inferior just to try and teach the Labour led Government a lesson. In effect they’re willing to make people homeless because in some cases the slumlords' balance sheets won't look so rosy if they adhere to the Government's regulations.

It's a huge middle finger to the once egalitarian country we used to enjoy. In fact nothing says fuck you poor person more than an empty house that makes more capital gains each year than most DINK's yearly earnings combined. But if that wasn’t bad enough, the landlords are now trying to blame developers and not just renters for the large amount of dilapidated rental houses that remain empty in New Zealand.

Tauranga Rentals owner Dan Lusby said he was aware of private developers who had built apartments with no decks or outside areas that had become magnets for gangs and other trouble.

In his view, these developers were ''all about the money'' and they had ''little empathy for tenants''.

''They will sell to one investor'' and he feared this could set a precedent and lead to slum blocks.


In my opinion this is a damn good reason for the Government to get even tougher on slumlords. An empty house levy should be implemented to try to ensure realtors and slumlords don’t continue to chuck tenants out onto the street. It could also go some way in persuading former landlords to actually sell their properties to first homebuyers instead of just leaving them to rack and ruin.

After all, the only thing slumlords really care about is money. Their cold dead hearts and unfettered arrogance means that they will never accept any responsibility for our dilapidated housing stock or the some 200,000 empty houses that are going to waste across Aotearoa. Instead, they will search for anyone but themselves to blame while continuing to denigrate and evict some of the most vulnerable people in our so-called society.

Rotorua Property Investors Association president Debbie Van Den Broek said some landlords were disillusioned.

''It has just become too difficult, too unpleasant, and not worth the effort. Especially for beginners.''

Surely Den Broek isn’t claiming that there’s no profit to be made from rental properties? What on earth does she think is largely driving the housing crisis? It’s the continued reinvestment of rental profits into more property by speculators that is essentially closing renters and first homebuyers out of the market.

She said renters most at risk of any fallout would be families and people with pets.


So renters aren't allowed pets or children now?


Van Den Broek acknowledged it was great to see first-home buyers on the property ladder but not everyone had a deposit.

In her view, only the Government had the ability to not make a profit on providing rental accommodation ''as they have their own personal bottomless 'Give a Little Page' being the taxpayer''.

Top landlord for 2009 - Debbie Van Den Broek
Where the hell does Den Broek think most of the money that goes into landlords' bank accounts comes from? The bottomless pit of cash she describes, i.e. the public purse, is exactly where most realtors' wealth originates, particularly in lower socio economic areas where the disparity between rents and incomes is extreme.

What this all shows is that the landed gentry will do and say anything to try and safeguard the lifestyles they've become accustomed to at the expense of the poor. If they have to evict numerous tenants and leave houses empty to ensure a short supply of rentals, thus pushing up prices, then that’s exactly what they'll do.

This underhanded tactic also provides the opposition with ammunition to throw at the Government. It's a double-edged sword however that will likely mean everybody loses out eventually, but especially in the short term for the many thousands of renters and people looking for their first home who are fast losing any hope of ever having a secure, healthy and safe place to call their own.