Renting policy: National takes aim at meth users in rentals, Labour abolishes letting fees

Jacinda Ardern and Bill English.
Jacinda Ardern and Bill English. Photo credit: Newshub.

Labour and National announced policies that would affect landlords and renters on Sunday. While National's policy would introduce a new charge for meth-using tenants, Labour's strengthened the rights of renters.

While Labour announced its rental policy on the campaign trail in Auckland on Sunday, National had its own release - a "crackdown" on gangs and drugs. It included a new law that could see people who have smoked meth inside a rental property charged with willful contamination.

Meth detected at a level of 1.5 micrograms per 100cm2 would be considered willful contamination, a National Party spokesperson told Newshub.

National's policy release focused on giving police extended powers to target gangs and drug dealers. At the release, police spokesperson Paula Bennett controversially said the rights of some criminals may be breached under the policy, but convicted criminals have "fewer human rights than others".

Former Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne, who used the later years of his political career to begin advocating for a move away from the "war on drugs", tweeted "drug reform may have taken a step backwards today".

Mr Dunne did not wish to comment further.

While National's policy focused on a crackdown, over at Labour, things were more "relentlessly positive", to use a phrase it has been relentlessly repeating.

Labour announced rental policy that would abolish letting fees, increase the notice period to 90 days and would limit rent increases to once a year, with the formula stipulated in the rental contract.

Labour's policy was very similar to a 2016 Bill tabled by former Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, which was voted down 61-59 by National, United Future and ACT. The only major difference is Ms Turei's Bill would have set a default fixed-term tenancy of three years. The bill remains Green policy. 

Labour and the Greens weren't the only parties going after the renters' vote, and it was easy to see why. Half of New Zealanders live in rentals and three-quarters of people younger than 40 rent.

The Opportunities Party would make renting more secure by only making it possible for landlords to kick out tenants for not paying rent or damaging the property. Not even the sale of the property would necessarily be a reason to evict tenants.

The Māori Party would oblige landlords to ensure tenants don't lose money when they are given notice due to plans to sell the property.