Let­ting fee ban ‘long over­due’

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATION - PAUL MITCHELL

Leg­is­la­tion ban­ning let­ting fees should have hap­pened long ago – grow­ing num­bers of Ki­wis are reg­u­larly fac­ing ex­pen­sive moves as renters, a Palmer­ston North ten­ants’ ad­vo­cate says.

Manawatū Ten­ants’ Union co­or­di­na­tor Kevin Reilly said peo­ple were get­ting squeezed out of the hous­ing mar­ket and into a semi­no­madic life as renters, and they were fac­ing large costs each time they moved.

Once ev­ery­thing was taken into ac­count, mov­ing into a new rental could cost an av­er­age Palmer­ston North fam­ily about $2400, he said.

The Gov­ern­ment has a bill be­fore Par­lia­ment to end the prac­tice where charges are ap­plied to as­sign te­nan­cies.

‘‘This long over­due ... [it] keeps us in line with other sim­i­lar coun­tries around the world,’’ Reilly said.

He said Scot­land banned let­ting fees in 2012, and de­spite warn­ings there from crit­ics Athat it would raise rents, it had been shown to have no sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect.

Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Phil Twyford said the let­ting fee ban was the first of a raft of re­forms Labour aimed to make to im­prove life for renters.

That in­cluded leg­is­la­tion lim­it­ing rent in­creases to once a year, and im­prov­ing se­cu­rity of ten­ure.

Twyford said new ten­ants could face up to four weeks’ bond, two weeks’ rent in ad­vance and one week’s rent as a let­ting fee – plus mov­ing costs.

Ten­ancy Ser­vices put the me­dian mar­ket rent for a three­bed­room Palmer­ston North house at $320 per week.

So, the home’s up­front cost for a new renter would be $2240 plus mov­ing costs.

Palmer­ston North land­lord Shane Storey didn’t be­lieve a let­ting fee ban would have much ef­fect, for land­lords or ten­ants.

Storey said many land­lords would likely raise rents or oth­er­wise re­cover the let­ting fee costs, if they ended up hav­ing to take it on. How­ever, he could see the case for the bill.

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