The government is making it harder for landlords to evict tenants, among a few other changes to the Residential Tenancies Act. It's a brilliant bit of politics. Suppose that successive governments have so screwed up the rules around getting new housing built and the incentives facing councils to consent new housing that we wound up with a housing shortage. Suppose further that your government got elected on a promise to fix the mess - but has achieved close to nothing on the file after two years with an election coming. Kiwibuild was never going to work, and wound up being a costly distraction from the real supply issues at play. And suppose further that you really need anger about broken housing markets to be directed away from the government. What better play than
Eric Crampton considers the following as important: Housing
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And suppose further that you really need anger about broken housing markets to be directed away from the government.
If you really care about protecting tenants, you need to have massive increases in housing supply. You need to have landlords competing for tenants. You need to have the run-down, damp, grotty dungers left vacant because people have other places that they can afford to live instead. When you're in a massive housing shortage and the alternative to a crappy house is a garage or a car, crappy houses get rented out. If we instead had a surplus of housing, those places would be left vacant and their owners would have to decide whether to refurbish or tear down.
Charles Dickens quipped that an annual income of twenty pounds would result in happiness if annual expenditure were six pence less than twenty pounds, but misery if expenditures were instead six pence over twenty pounds.Those numbers are a bit rough. The household estimate comes out of the 2013 Census because I've not seen yet any release of TA-level household counts from the 2018 Census - I used the 2013 midpoint estimate which I expects lowballs things. But the number of dwellings count is current.
Housing is a bit like that.
If we had 600,000 dwellings in Auckland and some 580,000 households needing housing, the result would be happiness. Instead we have about 540,000 dwellings and 580,000 households needing housing, and the result is obviously miserable.
...Tenancy regulation will not build more houses. It can only address some of the current symptoms of a fundamentally broken housing market.
Worse, it is the kind of move that makes the most sense if the Government is pessimistic about its chances of fixing the real underlying problem – making it easier to get new housing built.