Yes, we are talking about houses without underfloor insulation, without range hoods or bathroom extractor fans. We are talking about houses with no fixed heating appliances. We are talking about houses that landlords decided to sell, because of the cost of keeping them up to a suitable standard that is deemed fit for tenants to live in. These houses are currently being snapped up by first home buyers, who don’t care about underfloor insulation. They just want to buy a house.

Continuing demand for Nelson’s lifestyle and a “massive” shortage of properties on the market has continued to push up house prices, leaving some first home buyers in properties not fit for tenants, some industry experts say.

Stuff.

The implication here, of course, is that these houses are not fit for human habitation, but that is simply not true. A house without underfloor insulation is fit for habitation. A house without walls – well, that is a different matter altogether. But with the ridiculous, over-the-top rules we have nowadays for rental houses, it means that a house without underfloor insulation cannot be made available for rent. There is nothing stopping someone buying the house and living in it, though. That is perfectly normal and acceptable.

Hell, I live in a house that is not fit for tenants, as it doesn’t have a range hood – my own fault, as I have never bothered to have one installed. It makes me laugh to think that this beautiful double glazed, fully insulated house is not fit for tenants. But there you have it.

It is great news that first-time buyers are buying up houses landlords are wanting to sell, and because of a prevailing housing shortage, they are paying high prices for them, but that is market forces for you. The important thing is that they are managing to buy houses. Landlords are happy to cut and run and take their enormous capital gains with them. That’s two parties in the property market who are pretty happy these days.

The losers in all this are those who have no alternative but to rent, and there are plenty of people in that category. Nowadays, if you have a mortgage, even a large one, chances are you are paying less on your mortgage every month than you would be paying in rent. That is the sad reality for renters. Those who live in private rental property are becoming a small group of elite people, who have better quality accommodation than many of the rest of us, but who are paying through the nose for the privilege.

It goes without saying that there are lots of tenants who would happily live in a property without underfloor insulation, or without a rangehood, particularly if it made the rent a bit cheaper. If the alternative is bunking up with family members who do not want you there or sleeping under a bridge, there is really no contest. But the law forbids such tenancies, and with the ability for tenants to ‘dob in’ their landlords and score a few thousand dollars for doing so, landlords simply cannot afford to take the risk. Who wants to be a landlord anyway, when you can sell the house and pocket a few hundred grand in capital gains? Sound like a no-brainer to me.

In the meantime, the homelessness problem gets worse, more and more people are living in motels, and there are 15,000 families on the waiting list for state housing. None of this is going to be fixed anytime soon. This is the government that made homelessness a huge problem in New Zealand, with its dreadful landlord bashing policies. Those of us who live in our own houses, even if they are ‘unfit for tenants’ can sit back and laugh. It is those who have to find a place to rent that are crying.

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