Why young voters should forget about buying a house
OPINION: A few months ago my flatmates and I decided to mow the lawn.
The grass was up to our knees and the landlord never sent a gardener, so we did something about it.
But the next day we woke up to builders putting up a wall that cut off the garden we'd just thoroughly pruned.
Our landlord wanted to make the detached apartment on the land more private.
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Fair enough. It's not our house. But it made me realise how much I hate renting. I had plans for that garden.
While not a horror renting story, it shows why many New Zealanders will cast their vote next Saturday based on housing.
Owning a home provides security, renting does not.
So you're forgiven if your ears pricked up on Sunday, when National announced its increase to HomeStart subsidies for first-home buyers. Mine certainly did.
Giving away more money is always going to be an attractive sell.
Well sorry friends, but according to economist Shamubeel Eaqub, us 20-somethings are all a bit naive to think we'll ever benefit from a change in housing policy.
Instead, our vote should focus on renting.
"It's taken us 40 years to get here, we have been under-building houses for 40 years. So thinking we're going to be able to fix this any time soon is comical," Eaqub says.
The increase to HomeStart is "stupid" he says, because it will just increase demand, leading to an increase in house prices.
Labour's promise to build more homes will take so long to bear fruit I'll be old before I can benefit from it.
Even waiting for incomes to catch up in Auckland will only make houses affordable by 2032 at the earliest.
That's depressing. I'm stuck paying the mortgage for someone I've never met and who can kick me out at the drop of a hat.
So what major party is offering a better renting deal?
National is weak on renting policy. The party announced it will strengthen powers for landlords to charge tenants who have smoked meth inside their house.
But there's nothing for tenant security.
Labour has promised to strengthen tenants' security by limiting rent rises to once a year and increasing landlords' notice periods to 90 days.
It's also planning to abolish "no-cause" tenancy terminations and require a formula for increases to be set in tenancy agreements, so tenants know what to expect.
Letting fees will also be banned.
Eaqub says renting in New Zealand is "awful because you get no security".
"When you strip it all back, young people will see no tangible benefit from housing policy in the short term unless it's going to be around rental properties.
"If they change the policies then young people who are renting, and are likely to rent for a long period of time, can make homes out of their rental property."
The Opportunities Party fall squarely in that ball court.
TOP's plan is to tax homeowners on the "imputed rent" they pay themselves. This would raise the cost of owning a house, and over time, drop the price people are willing to pay for homes.
The party will also introduce German-style long-term tenancies, and rental warrant of fitness to lift rental standards.
I'm still not set on where my vote will fall, but housing policy is now outside my radar.