Labour accuses National of 'putting the fear back into renting' after proposal to reverse ban on evictions without cause

Labour has come back swinging at National's plan to reverse the ban on evictions without cause and other rental regulations, saying the party's "putting the fear back into renting".

Chris Bishop, National's housing spokesperson, on Thursday reiterated his party's promise to do away with the 10-year bright-line test and to reintroduce interest deductibility for rentals.  

National also revealed it will scrap the ban on landlords only being able to end tenancies for specific reasons, such as selling the house or overdue rent.

"National's changes will make it easier to be a landlord, leading to an increased supply of rental properties and helping ease Labour's housing crisis," Bishop said.

But while National said the move will reverse Labour's "war on landlords", Labour has hit back saying National is "putting the fear back into renting".

"There's absolutely no need for the change. The status quo balances landlords' rights with the need for renters to feel they have some degree of security in their rental accommodation," Labour housing spokesperson Megan Woods said in a statement.

Woods said just in time for winter, National's "making it easier for families living in rental properties to be shown the door".

National's move would reverse Labour's Residential Tenancies Amendment Act. Introduced in 2021, the Act implemented a range of legislative changes including that landlords can only end tenancies for specific reasons, requiring a 63-day or 90-day notice period.

"With winter fast approaching, National's callous policy will send a shiver down the spine of renters right across New Zealand," Woods said.

Labour Housing Spokesperson Megan Woods.
Labour Housing Spokesperson Megan Woods. Photo credit: Getty Images

Woods noted there are a number of legitimate reasons for landlords to end a tenancy and the rights of landlords are protected to terminate a tenancy under a range of justifiable grounds.

To evict problematic tenants, landlords must provide evidence of three separate anti-social events in a 90-day period, or prove their tenant has been more than five days late on rent five times in 90 days. 

However, there are exceptions if tenants are at least 21 days in arrears for rent, if they have caused or threatened to cause "significant" damage, have assaulted or threatened to assault someone, used the house for illegal activity, or abandoned the property. 

"It's only fair for a tenant to know why their tenancy is ending and have the opportunity to dispute it," Woods said.

"We know there are plenty of great landlords offering excellent rental accommodation to tenants. We also know that there are hundreds of thousands of people living in rental accommodation who need the kind of secure tenure we have delivered under the Residential Tenancies Act.

"I'm disappointed that once again National is returning to the kind of form that led to it failing to address the affordable housing crisis that was emerging, while it also decimated public housing, ending up with 1500 fewer homes than they started with."

She noted Labour has delivered nearly 12,000 more public houses since October 2017.