When New Zealand plunged into lockdown on August 17, Property Council’s advocacy team geared up to provide the Government and decision makers with the best information and advice to help businesses navigate this latest hurdle in our battle against the pandemic.
A big win across the industry has been the exemption of retailers and shopping centres from mandatory record keeping. Encouraging people to scan in when they enter premises is important in our fight to stop COVID-19, but equally rules need to be enforceable. It’s difficult to see how retailers and shopping centres could police this. We’re working through with MBIE to try and see how this works for office and industrial buildings – there are similar issues here which make it difficult for property owners to police these rules.
We are also working with MBIE to make sure a lot of the good work done last year regarding Alert Level rules. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the rules which in large part worked well. Government has a lot of their tools already at their disposal and we want to make sure officials and businesses don’t have to learn whole new sets of rules and create more confusion and concern.
One critical piece of work has been helping the Government understand the complexities of the commercial lease landscape. Having heard the Government might be working on policy in this space, we reached out early to the Minister of Justice, Kris Faafoi, to provide him with a briefing and information regarding our experiences last year. Thankfully the Government have taken onboard our advice which is that the best way through this tricky time is to allow landlords and tenants as much room as possible to negotiate and come up with equitable agreements. Ultimately all sides want the same thing – when we are through this pandemic, for all of us to get going again and gain back as much lost time as possible. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work when there are so many variables across different leases and arrangements. We will continue to work with the Government to provide them the best advice we can.
We reached out to our partner industry bodies to try and avoid some of the mistakes of the last major lockdown. We are talking regularly with these partners to try and find some common ground where that exists. Our engagement to date has been positive and we’ll keep working with these organisations where we can find agreement. We won’t always agree with each other but working together where we can is beneficial for everyone.
As well as this, our business-as-usual work continues. We presented our submission on the Natural and Built Environments Bill to the Environment Committee last week and have received confirmation from Minister Parker’s office that our Resource Reform group are going to play an active role in helping work through some of the thorny issues we have identified. Our engagement with Auckland Council on the NPS-UD continues and we are making some good ground on key issues raised by our members. The BTR reference group continues to meet, and we are pushing ahead with our work to create a better regulatory environment so Build-to-Rent can flourish. We’re engaging with decision makers on a range of issues including fire and emergency levies, fire alarms, embodied carbon, seismic and hollow-core flooring issues, LIMS, and local government reform to name a few!
As you can see, our work never stops.