Today, Property Council New Zealand submitted on the COVID-19 Response (Management Measures) Legislation Bill. More specifically, we opposed the proposed changes to the Property Law Act 2007.
Our recommendation summary was as follows:
Property Council New Zealand (Property Council) does not support the proposed changes to the Property Law Act 2007 (“the Act”) as set out in Schedule 6 Part 4 of the COVID-19 Response (Management Measures) Legislation Bill (“the Bill”). Without consultation with the industry, and without comprehensive select committee analysis, we fear this poorly drafted amendment will make things harder for landlords and tenants to negotiate in good faith and get equitable outcomes.
Property Council New Zealand recommends:
- The rent relief clause, as currently drafted, does not progress.
- If the rent relief clause is progressed, that it be amended to clear up drafting ambiguities with a simple two-step process:
a. Eligibility for Rent Relief
i. A limit to its application to only include Alert Levels 4 and 3 to provide consistency with current Government support initiatives;
ii. Eligibility criteria to ensure tenants are assessed against need and vulnerability. This would include being a New Zealand owned business; an SME – (e.g. of fewer than 20 employees or a turnover of say less than $25m); and eligibility for the wage subsidy showing economic loss;
b. Considerations for a “fair proportion of rent”
i. A set of considerations that should be taken into account when assessing rent relief – including economic loss, consideration of online and click and collect sales, ability for a business to operate remotely and consideration of the potential bounce back in sales once the physical premises reopens over a defined period of time.
- That in addition, the Government should consider targeted business payment support for vulnerable businesses to deal immediately with cashflow issues; and
- That the Government reconsider other direct interventions and policy options, including:
a. Mandatory communication timeframes;
b. Rent deferral for tenants through the tax;
c. Rent subsidy for tenants;
d. Landlord Hardship Fund.
- That the Finance and Expenditure Committee request an extension of time to adequately assess the implications of the draft clause until 14 November 2021.