Candidate Raymond Tan answers Renters United’s questions

September 17, 2022 11:40 pm


Raymond Tan

North Shore Ward

Likely to make things better for renters

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Renters United asked every candidate the North Shore Ward 17 questions about the issues that most concern renters in their ward. Here are Raymond Tan’s responses in full.

Rapid fire questions

Are you a renter? No
Do you own any properties? Yes
Do you support the Renters United Healthy Homes Commitment? Yes
Do you commit to funding tenant advocacy? Yes
Do you support councils retaining ownership an expanding supply of council housing? Yes
Will you lobby for IRRS to be extended to councils? Yes
Do you commit to densifying inner city suburbs? Yes
Will you commit to using your platform to abolish the ratepayers roll? Yes

Stable homes

What actions would you take to improve stability and security for private renters?

For rent stability, New Zealand could follow the model used in Switzerland where Swiss courts can consider rental income as excessive if the net return exceeds half a percent of the interest rate for the first mortgage. The challenge with this model is there is no proper register of renters and councils don’t know if a property has been rented. The only way to get the information to protect renters is to make it compulsory for council, insurance companies and different state agencies to willingly provide that data.

How will you ensure all council tenants have security of tenure?

With the shortage of housing available across the country, having rules to mandate security of tenure is not possible as we have seen owners leaving houses empty to wait for an opportunity to sell for profit. Financial institutions, council and governments need to work together to discourage “house banking” similar to “land banking”. Ultimately the government needs to provide enough housing to stop private investors from causing the housing shortage and housing affordability.

What steps will you take to end homelessness in Auckland?

There are many factors for homelessness in Auckland that requires various government agencies and council to work together to address the root cause and other causal factors for displacement. I do not support the situation in Rotorua where temporary emergency housing has become a permanent fixture creating new problems for the region. I’ll advocate closer collaboration with different community groups to address this.

Meaningful enforcement

If elected, would you take steps to tackle persistent bad landlords who do not meet their obligations to renters in your area? If so, what?

There is just so much councils can do within the current legislation. The Healthy Homes Guarantee Act 2017, Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019 must be accompanied by heavy penalties to deter dishonesty and unethical practices. The council can enforce the rules but it may result in empty homes where capital gains are more profitable that rental income.

What do you think Council should do to address power imbalance between landlords and tenants? If nothing, why?

The same answer to the above applies. It is beyond council powers to completely restore the power balance between landlords and tenants as it is limited to what people can do to make their homes better for renters and not what they may use their homes for e.g. Airbnb, capital gains or offset tax which have been removed partially as rental companies can now offset income with depreciation, interest and operational expenses. Power equilibrium requires government interventions, somewhere between capitalism and communism economic system that will not suit every circumstances. Because of the lack of state houses available, private providers will naturally have more power. Council can increase its housing stock but will still be well short of the required numbers to address the power imbalance.

Fair rent

Would you advocate for additional powers or resources from Central Government to address the housing crisis (such as legislating for Rent Control), if so what and how?

Yes I’ll advocate for additional powers as per the above example of the Swiss model and impose rental control only once there is adequate supply of public housing such as the situation in Singapore where I grew up before arriving in New Zealand. Rent was capped for many years, not adjusted to any inflationary pressures until supply exceeded demand of both public and private housing to prevent its citizens from poverty and opportunity to save or use their income to start a business. The issue with New Zealand is governments over the last 30 years cannot decide whether it should follow the model of many European countries that has strict rules around owning a second home or the American model where it is acceptable to displace millions of people in the streets, the consequence of capitalism.

What do you think are the main reasons rents in Auckland are increasing? How would you ensure rents in Auckland are affordable?

In the last 20 years, rental demand exceeding housing supply due to growing economy, tourism and student population was not equally with housing supply. In Japan, airbnb is illegal in many prefectures, renters and owners are fairly well protected under Japanese law. Renters do not have choices because of the housing shortages. Home owners that have leveraged their borrowings have not option but to increase rent to satisfy bank requirements, rising insurance, council, interest and other cost. Rents in Auckland can only be affordable if wage increases is in parity with rental increases and similar for benefit increases. Closing the gap would require both council and government to initiate something similar to the Climate Emergency or Covid response that mandates all vacant houses must be occupied and all government rent subsidies must meet a certain criteria. Unfortunately the public works act can only be used of infrastructure development. Perhaps a similar act could be applied to housing if there is an admission of a housing crisis.

Safe and healthy homes

What actions (in contrast to or in conjunction with our Healthy Homes Commitment) would you take to improve the quality of private rental housing in your ward and in your city?

Yes, I would reinforce the Healthy Homes Commitment but would need the legislation to ensure penalties are effective to deter owners from breaking the rules. I would also encourage all renters to register with council to prevent any illegal breaches of legislation. Home owners have got the same rights as renters under the property act and council need to adhere to the legislation.

Anything else you want to share?

Not really. I was renter and boarder for over 20 years in different cities and countries but had good landlords and hence had never been involved in any group. Rental United is an excellent initiative and I believe, a collective will have a stronger voice that could influence the housing supply landscape if resources can be pooled together to raise issues at different levels, at the local (through council, universities) and national (different government agencies) and to warn others from being in the same situation. Excessive rent and vacant houses, must be dealt with immediately by the government, council, tertiary and financial institutions. Your united voice and pooled resources can achieve that but it must be directed at both the private and public sectors with clear and specific solutions presented to all involved and debated at the right level and right time such as the current local election and the general elections next year. Collectively, you can make it clear to politicians how and who you will vote in elections.

Raymond Tan

North Shore Ward

Likely to make things better for renters

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