Landlords' scaremongering tenants into not voting Labour may breach human rights law

If your landlord's telling you to vote against the Government or they'll raise your rent, the Human Rights Commission wants to hear from you.

Landlords have been raising rents and blaming the Labour-NZ First coalition, with one property owner telling others they should be "scaremongering" their tenants.

"If 35 percent of houses are rentals in New Zealand and we can get say half of the tenants NOT to give Labour their vote, we might as a collective help change the outcome of the next election and in doing so send the Labour Party a clear message," landlord David McQuoid said on the Property Investors Chat NZ Facebook page, which has nearly 20,000 members.

Another sent their tenant notice their rent was going up $20, saying the "actions of the present Labour-led Coalition Government are raising costs for all landlords".

The Government is considering whether to adopt the recommendations of the Tax Working Group's recent report, including a stricter capital gains tax regime on investment and rental properties. It's already signalled tougher rules on rentals, such as requiring insulation and limiting how frequently rents can go up.

The Human Rights Act outlaws discrimination against people because of their political opinions.

"One of the circumstances in which discrimination can be unlawful is in the provision of housing and accommodation," a spokesperson for the Human Rights Commission told Newshub.

"Any tenant who believes they have been discriminated against by a landlord because of their political opinion can contact our enquiries and complaints services for further information about the options that they might have."

The Electoral Commission told Newshub last week McQuoid's comments didn't meet the threshold to breach the Electoral Act, and landlords - like everyone else - are "allowed to use social media to express political views".

The Human Rights Commission says "general comments about what might happen in the future depending on election outcomes" - such as rents going up - are not likely to be matters that would fall within the unlawful discrimination provisions of the Human Rights Act".

"However, each individual complaint is assessed on its own facts," the spokesperson said.

The Opposition says the Government's proposed changes will increase rents and discourage landlords from supplying rental property.

If adopted, the capital gains tax would only apply to gains made after the date it's introduced - expected to be 2021.

Andrew King, head of the NZ Property Investors' Federation, says Government policy is directly to blame for rents going up.

"With the Government calling rental property providers speculators and creating negativity towards them, it isn't that surprising that some will want to let tenants know why their rental prices are increasing," he told Newshub earlier this week.

The Tax Working Group in its report noted a capital gains tax may see "small" increases in rent, but at the same time make it easier for many to buy their own home.


Contact Newshub with your story tips: