Tenant painters ‘make my blood boil’ – multimillionaire landlord Ron Goodwin

A multimillionaire Auckland landlord will ban tenants from painting homes once a new law comes into effect next month giving renters more rights to alter places if they get the owners’ consent.

“The very suggestion of tenants doing painting inside or outside one of my rental houses makes my blood boil,” said Ron Goodwin of the amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act which allows minor changes to rental homes.

New Zealand has just under 600,000 rental properties and from February 11, the biggest law change in 35 years becomes operative.

“Over 99 per cent of them wouldn’t have a clue how to go about it,” said Goodwin, reported last decade to own 37 properties worth around $18 million.

But lobby group Renters United backs the changes, saying a secure and stable home is essential for people’s wellbeing and it is time to change the perception of renters as visitors in their communities who can never put down roots.

The Green Party also celebrated rent reform last August, its co-leader and Housing spokeswoman Marama Davidson saying renters deserved better.

Goodwin doesn’t agree.

“I once had a lady tenant who fancied herself as a painter.Without consulting me, she tried painting a wall in the lounge a different colour.It was a total disaster. The lounge walls and ceiling had to be repainted and the carpet renewed,” he said.

“She also decided she wanted the cedar weatherboards painted white so she bought a 10l tub of white paint,” he said.

Goodwin objected and said the tenant threw the 10l tub of white paint over one side of the cedar weatherboard house and an adjacent timber deck.

“It took me umpteen days to clean up the mess and paint the whole house an acceptable colour and ditto the timber deck,” he said.

A Ministry of Housing and Urban Development spokesman said whether a specific change like painting walls was within the scope of the revamped law would be situation dependent.

“A landlord and tenant should consider the elements of the definition and how they apply to the property and proposed change. Will it be easy to reverse? Is there a low risk of damage?” the spokesman asked.

“It is possible that painting walls may be considered out of scope as it may not be easy to return the walls to a reasonably similar condition at the end of the tenancy. If there is a dispute between a landlord and tenant, the Tenancy Tribunal can hear the dispute and will decide each case on the individual facts of the situation. It is also worth noting that tenants are not permitted to undertake minor changes without landlord consent,” the ministry man said.

Minor changes are defined as presenting a low damage risk to the place, can be returned to a reasonably similar condition at the end, do not pose a health or safety risk, have no impacts of third parties, require no consent under law and don’t breach bylaws or rules, covenants, etc.

Installing picture hooks, a dishwasher or washing machine in a space provided, baby gate, cupboard safety latches, shelving, TV aerials, curtains and window coverings, internal locks, fire and security alarms and doorbells or developing a garden were examples of changes which would be considered minor, the spokesman said.

Not all landlords oppose tenants painting. Gary Lin, an Auckland landlord with 14 rental properties valued at $13m, said he generally had no issue with tenants being able to seek these changes and nor was he particularly worried about painting.

The list of what constituted minor changes was not unreasonable, he said.

“If the tenant is willing to pay for these upgrades, fantastic go for it. Picture hooks yes can be a problem if they overdo it and leave small holes on walls, but I’m not OCD on that and don’t care,” Lin said.

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