New Zealanders have reacted with criticism of Finance Minister Grant Robertson after comments he made about renters having the option to "go looking elsewhere".
The Government on Tuesday announced property investors will no longer be able to offset interest paid on home loans against their rental income, which will significantly increase their tax bills. It's been predicted property investors could increase rents as a result.
It comes as the Government tries to bring about a suite of changes to try and slow the housing market, including extending the bright-line test to 10 years. That means anyone who purchases and then sells a residential property - excluding the family home - within a decade will pay a tax on any gains.
Earlier on Wednesday, The AM Show host Duncan Garner questioned Robertson on whether he wanted voters living in rental properties and facing massive increases.
"Those kinds of rental increases there may mean that people will go looking elsewhere," Robertson said.
"We've made a number of changes to support tenants - they've got more security in their tenancy to make sure they're living in warm, dry homes and that's important for us.
"The rental level is a product of demand and supply - we're working to increase that supply right now but it's also a product of people's ability to pay."
Some New Zealanders, politicians included, have taken to social media following Robertson's comments.
"Good grief," National MP Chris Bishop said on social media.
"This is amazingly out of touch by Grant Robertson," Bishop wrote.
"The problem is that we're facing a severe housing shortage: there aren't always other places to go. The thousands of people living in motels aren't there by choice," National housing spokesperson Nicola Willis said on Twitter.
"Yeah nah, after about 40 flat viewings this summer and still ending up in an overpriced sub-standard flat... really wish I could just 'look elsewhere,'" wrote Matthew Casey, the editor of Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association magazine Salient.
"Is Grant Robertson not aware of the critical shortage of rentals around the country at the best of times, let alone during peak moving season at the start of the year?" asked Kāpiti Coast District councillor Gwynn Compton.
Some New Zealanders, however, jumped to Robertson's defence.
"The problem is that we're facing a severe housing shortage that YOUR PARTY created," one person wrote in reply to Willis on Twitter.
"Was it created in [the] last 4 years? Answer as you know is NO," another said. "What is @NZNationalParty going to do about it and how’s that going to her solve the issue?"
Robertson earlier said he's confident the Government's housing package will make a positive difference to the market. He said the changes were about evening the playing field.
"We have to have a market that works; that's fair for tenants, that's fair for landlords as well."