Tenancy laws: Mark Richardson, Amanda Gillies butt heads over New Zealand's latest tenancy rules

The controversial new tenancy laws are already proving contentious, with The AM Show sports presenter and former landlord Mark Richardson branding the legislation "a dreadful piece of politicking" in an on-air stoush with co-host Amanda Gillies.

The second of three phases to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act will come into force on Thursday in a bid to improve the security of New Zealand's tenants. The new laws include allowing renters to make minor changes to a property, such as hanging pictures or replacing curtains, without the landlord's permission; requiring rentals to show a rental price to avoid competitive bidding; and making name suppression available to those who are successful at the Tenancy Tribunal to avoid future blacklisting. 

Richardson, who revealed he decided to stop being a landlord last year after "one difficult tenant", slammed the new laws as "a dreadful piece of politicking" on Thursday morning. 

"[It was] a desperate bid to gain votes that now will have very unforeseen consequences," he said.

"Who are the people who are strung over a barrel by the banks and in debt… who have now lost control over this very important asset to them?"

Richardson has actively defended landlords in the past, arguing against suggestions that rent should be reduced or removed altogether during New Zealand's COVID-19 crisis.

"It's all good intent, but it's just idealistic mumbo jumbo," he said last May. "For a start, landlords actually have to get the rent in to pay their outgoings as well."

He echoed that sentiment on Thursday, asserting the majority of landlords - "mum, dad investors" - will often operate at a loss.

"Now you've got to worry about not only getting a bad tenant - who is going to destroy this very, very important asset that could send you to the wall - you have to worry about the next door neighbours ending up with a bad tenant as well," he said.

"If next door ends up with some rogues, your tenants are likely to want to move out."

The former cricketer has previously shared his own "nightmare" experience as a landlord, saying in August that one particularly difficult tenant forced him to give up the gig. 

"It took for me one difficult tenant and I was out," Richardson explained last year. "It was growing. It was going to become recurrent. Now, if other people like myself start thinking the same, we'll have real issues when it comes to providing accommodation for people."

But co-host and newsreader Amanda Gillies did not agree with Richardson's argument on Thursday, noting that tenants are often paying for a landlord's cosy retirement.

"On the flip side, most tenants are really good - and most tenants are paying off your retirement plan so you can retire nicely at the end of day," she chipped in.

"A lot of tenants get kicked out at short notice, they're not allowed to do anything - it's supposed to be their home. I get your point, but I think for the majority of people, they're helping you."

"I grossly disagree with that. You get good tenants, you don't want to kick them out," Richardson shot back.

"But for whatever reason, sometimes you just have to," Gillies said, adding that she as a tenant once had to vacate the property over Christmas as the landlord wanted to spend their holiday there.

"But that would be a rarity not the norm," Richardson argued. "These new rules are setting rules for a minority as opposed to a majority and that's wrong."

The co-hosts clashed on Thursday, with Gillies arguing that renters are paying for landlords' retirement - while Richardson branded the laws "dreadful politicking".
The co-hosts clashed on Thursday, with Gillies arguing that renters are paying for landlords' retirement - while Richardson branded the laws "dreadful politicking". Photo credit: The AM Show

Other changes to come into effect on Thursday under the second phase include landlords no longer being able to use "no cause" terminations for periodic tenancies. Instead, landlords must give justified grounds to end a periodic tenancy and tell the tenant the reason.

Additionally, fixed-term tenancies will automatically convert to periodic tenancies upon expiry, unless the landlords and tenants agree otherwise; the tenant gives notice; or the landlord gives notice using one of the justified grounds at the end of the fixed-term.