Kamis, 19 November 2009

Startling Steve and the draft Bill

While the Tenants' Union continues to pore over the details of the new draft Residential Tenancies Bill (I'll post some comments on it shortly), the president of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, Steve Martin, has today blitzed the media with his own analysis.

(Steve Martin. Yeah, a cheap shot, I know. As the namesake of another famous Martin, I'm allowed.)

Through this morning's Australian Financial Review, Steve startled the big end of town with his warning that the draft Bill was 'investment vandalism' that would 'deliver carnage to mum and dad investors and tenants across NSW.'

This is because, says Steve, the Bill would introduce 'rent controls.' Yes, RENT CONTROLS. I kid you not.

By the afternoon, Startling Steve was down the other end of town, accosting Sydney workers through the commuter organ mX with predictions that 'Sydney rents could jump 20 per cent in just one year' if the Bill is implemented.

This is because, says Steve, it would be so costly for landlords and agents to comply with the Bill's conditions. 'On an average rental of $500 per week, these new costs could be as high as $100, which is a 20 per cent increase', he said.

Perceptive readers may have spotted something of a contradiction in Steve's statements. Will the draft Bill punt rents through the roof, or freeze them where they stand?

It takes a special kind of analysis to come up with two contradictory propositions and get both wrong. Regarding the rent control nonsense – and it is nonsense – the draft Bill's provisions relating to rent increases are the same, almost to the letter, as those in the current Act. No rent controls there.

As for the rent increase nonsense – and it is nonsense, and they've tried it on before – Steve doesn't say how he came up with such extraordinary estimates of the costs of compliance. Unless he shows his workings (whether on the back of a napkin, or a coaster, or whatever), the rest of us are entitled to think that he's just making it up.