Homes falling into disrepair
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.