By the time you are reading this, my wife, Sarah, and I will be starting a seven-month motorbike journey from San Francisco to Santiago in Chile. This is part one of a plan to motorbike around the Americas.
Naturally this means my 26-year involvement (nearly half my life!) with the rental property industry is coming to an end. It has certainly been a journey and I’d like to thank Sarah and the kids for putting up with a lot.
Because I wanted better industry information, things started with founding the Residential Property Investor magazine. The Auckland PIA took my magazine for their members, and this started a relationship with the industry that I never imagined would be so all consuming.
I really wanted to professionalise the industry and bring it into the modern era, where tenants were thought of as customers and not an unfortunate part of owning rental property.
Along with Martin Evans, Thomas Chin, and Terry le Grove, I was proud of helping to turn the NZPIF into an industry body that considered the needs of tenants and not just landlords.
This change helped our advocacy work. We didn’t just complain about issues, we came up with well researched and balanced solutions. We were apolitical and got on well with different political groups. Because of this, we were listened to and respected. We achieved a lot.
We stopped capital gains taxes being introduced not once, not twice, but three times. We have continued to halt a rental property WOF and draconian rental freezes. We have supported positive policies such as compulsory smoke alarms and insulation in rentals. We supported most Healthy Homes initiatives while preventing ridiculously expensive suggestions.
One initiative I’m particularly proud of is winter energy payments. Discussions with the Children’s Commissioner and Otago Medical School around children ending up in hospital from living in cold damp houses found that not turning on heaters was a big part of the problem. My idea was to target these kids’ families with winter payments going directly to electricity suppliers. When instigated the payment was less and given to a much wider group of people, many who don’t need it, but it has helped many kids stay healthy and I’m really glad for that.
It is disappointing that an old-fashioned view of rental property owners has emerged so vehemently over the last five or so years. I’m also disappointed that I wasn’t able to prevent so many poorly researched and designed law changes becoming law. I can honestly say that I did my best, but there wasn’t a lot of listening going on. However, these things go in cycles and one way or another I am sure that we will once again be listened to before too long.
The NZPIF has great plans to help our members provide good rental properties to tenants who desperately need them. I’m looking forward to seeing these plans come to fruition plus the removal of well-meaning but poorly thought-out laws that have made it harder for us to provide people with good and affordable homes. The current situation is unacceptable and rental owners are part of the solution to fix it.
With that I will disappear into the South American sunset. Be proud of what you do and all the very best with your investments.