Homes fall­ing into dis­re­pair

Wairarapa News - - OUT & ABOUT - ROB STOCK MONEY MAT­TERS rob.stock@fair­fax­me­

An aw­ful lot of houses are look­ing tatty, and unloved.

There’s only one solid piece of re­search done on trends in home main­te­nance, and it points to wide­spread main­te­nance fail­ure.

It’s done by BRANZ, the hous­ing re­search peo­ple, last con­ducted in 2015.

It showed 32 per cent of rentals were ‘‘poorly main­tained’’ com­pared to 14 per cent of owne­roc­cu­pied homes.

The over­all trend be­tween 2010 and 2015 was for an im­prove­ment in main­te­nance, but there re­mained a clear di­vide be­tween the will­ing­ness of owne­roc­cu­piers and land­lords to spend on main­te­nance.

In 2010 three quar­ters of owner-oc­cu­piers lived in rea­son­ably, or well main­tained homes, com­pared to 86 per cent in 2015. The cor­re­spond­ing numbers for renters were just 56 per cent, and 68 per cent.

Ris­ing house prices en­cour­age owner-oc­cu­piers to up­grade their homes. They en­cour­age land­lords


Check out BRANZ’s guide Make sure there’s main­te­nance money in the bud­get

Get skilled up to use pas­sive eq­uity gains to per­suade banks to lend them more money so they can buy the next place.

Though I wouldn’t be sur­prised if it turned out that a wave of leaky build­ing re­clads in the five years has made the home main­te­nance trend look overly flat­ter­ing. Those re­me­di­a­tions were only pos­si­ble, in many cases, be­cause prop­erty prices had risen so mas­sively.

But now we come to the rentals, which the gov­ern­ment has made a pri­or­ity for leg­is­la­tion with its Healthy Homes Guar­an­tee Bill.

In ef­fect, the bill will force many land­lords to in­vest some of their eq­uity gains in im­prov­ing the hous­ing stock.

This will come as a blow to land­lords who bought places re­cently, but truly some­thing needs to be done.

The wealth of a na­tion should be cap­tured in the qual­ity of hous­ing, not just in its price.

BRANZ found that in 2010 around 44 per cent of rentals were poorly main­tained. In 2015, that had dropped to 32 per cent, but again, I do won­der about the leaky re­me­di­a­tion ef­fect.

The clear im­pli­ca­tion of the rental/owner-oc­cu­pier di­vide is that owner-oc­cu­piers are in­vest­ing in their own com­fort in

‘‘The wealth of a na­tion should be cap­tured in the qual­ity of hous­ing, not just in its price.’’

a way that land­lords are far less likely to do for ten­ants.

With a rental short­age in Auck­land and Welling­ton, ten­ants try­ing to force a land­lord to prop­erly main­tain a home can be a process end­ing in a 90-day no­tice.

My pick for the fu­ture is that home main­te­nance is go­ing to be­come a big­ger chal­lenge for the na­tion. More peo­ple are rent­ing, and mort­gages have in­creased, leav­ing less money to keep places main­tained.

And many of us are not so skilled as we used to be. Fig­ures from Mitre 10 show women’s skills com­pared to pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions are im­prov­ing. Men’s are de­clin­ing.

How much should we be bud­get­ing per house, per year?

Rules of thumb used to main­tain that one per cent of the house’s value, or 15 per cent of rental in­come, was what was needed. But the truth is it de­pends on the prop­erty.

BRANZ’s web­site has free home main­te­nance plans and man­u­als to help own­ers start fac­tor­ing main­te­nance into their bud­gets.

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