New renting model replaces 'tenants' with 'customers'

Tenants will become customers and landlords "housing providers" under a new model of renting proposed by an investment fund.

Haven Funds has been founded to invest in residential property, with a view to letting it long-term. It is open to wholesale investors, whose money will be pooled to buy the properties.

Co-founder and chief executive Tim Lichtenstein said the fund would offer housing to cater to the growing "forgotten middle" – New Zealand households with income of about $100,000 to $150,000 who opted for a life of renting rather than owning their own homes.

Haven Funds will invest in a range of property including standalone homes,

semidetached houses, units and suburban apartments. It will buy new properties from developers but will not build its own.

Lichtenstein said it would aim for a cross-section of properties and would buy in blocks from developers rather than single houses.

It would be important that the housing was of a suitable quality, he said. "We are trying to turn the rental model on its head a little. Traditionally it's been mum and dad owning one or two in the suburbs and for a lot of reasons at this stage they aren't wanting to reinvest in those properties to improve them. We want properties of a high standard."

Haven Funds would also refer to "housing providers" and "customers" rather than landlords and tenants to help to address the power imbalance, he said.

"Ideally we would have tenants for life. We don't want short-term contracts. We won't plan to sell the properties."

Haven Funds owns some properties already but its information memorandum is not yet available to allow it to take money from investors. Lichtenstein said he expected that to happen within the next couple of weeks, and the first inhabitants to move in to the properties in the first quarter of next year.

Eventually it would expand beyond Auckland and have hundreds of properties in its portfolio, he said.

Lichtenstein said the fund was not worried about house prices and he expected rental yields would rise over time.

Haven Funds would not charge bonds or letting fees, he said.

Stuff - Susan Edmunds 17:05, Sep 28 2018