“The Greens' ideas amount to increasing the cost of renting out a house with more bureaucracy, and then reducing the benefits with rent control. If your costs go up and the benefits are capped, the net result will be fewer homes for rent, less competition for tenants, and lower quality rental housing. In other words, the opposite of their intention - but economics was never the Greens’ strong suit.

“The Greens’ policy is founded in a fundamental misunderstanding of the most basic economic theory. They seem to believe being tougher on landlords will make renting easier, when it will reduce the number of people who want to rent out houses and the number of houses they rent out.

“If there was a shortage of food, nobody would suggest the solution is making it harder to run a farm. If there was a shortage of cars, nobody would suggest making it harder to import a car. Yet somehow, the solution to a shortage of rental homes is to make it harder to rent out a home.

“If more obligations for landlords was the answer, then the last five years of Healthy Homes, making evictions harder, a 10-year bright line test, and removing mortgage interest deductibility would made New Zealand a renters’ paradise. Instead, things have got worse, and the Greens' policy effectively tells landlords that the beatings will continue until morale improves.

“Perhaps worst of all is the values underlying the Greens’ policy. The subtext is that a group of people have had it too good for too long and need to be taken down a peg or two. That is not the values that underpin a progressive New Zealand united behind good ideas. It misunderstands that landlords and tenants are not class enemies but two groups of people who need each other for a mutually beneficial exchange.

“A more enlightened policy would ask ‘how can the Government make it easier to build a home to rent out, or rent out a home that’s already built?’ The answers are to fund infrastructure better, reform planning laws, and reform building consent laws so it’s easier to build, then make it easier to be a landlord.

“That is where ACT comes in. With economically literate policies that will deliver what is promised. They include:

  • Reforming the RMA on a property rights basis, with the presumption that you can develop your land so long as your immediate neighbours’ property is not unreasonably affected
  • Sharing half the GST collected on new residential builds so that councils have the means and incentive to let building carry on
  • Allowing builders to opt out of council inspections if they have private insurance on new builds, so that new and innovative materials and techniques can be used
  • Reversing anti-landlord policies around evictions, the brightline test, and mortgage interest deductibility so that it’s more attractive to rent out a house and tenants have more choice

“The Greens’ policy is as damaging as it is predictable. It shows how a continued Labour Government propped up by the Greens and Te Paati Māori will leave New Zealand poorer and more divided.

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