Mark Bouris throws support behind long-term leases for Australian cities

He made his fortune selling home loans, but now Mark Bouris is advocating a change to tenancy laws, saying the government should aid the introduction of long-term leases.

Bouris said Australian cities including Sydney and Melbourne need a rental system for tenants similar to Paris or New York, where long-term leases can typically last for decades.

“I think we could end up there, maybe not right at the moment but we will end up there,” he said. “What’s going to happen, with lending regime the way it is, you’re only going to get certain numbers of people who can afford to, or be qualified, to buy an investment property.

“They’ll just keep buying all the investment properties,” Bouris said. “What they’re better off doing is actually putting good tenants in there and putting them in there for 30 years”.

“If you get a good tenant you should stick with them, that’s the bottom line,” he said.

Bouris, starring in television show The Mentor on Channel Seven (based on his podcast of the same name), has his own theory about renting versus buying.

“I have a view on real estate ownership, nobody actually owns real estate. You can’t lay down and hug it on the ground, you don’t own it, OK? What you have is the right to occupy against everybody else,” Bouris said.

“Now whether it’s for life, or the rest of your life, or for forever … it might be a 90 year lease or the next 25 years, it’s all the same, we’ve just got the right to occupy. And all we are is minding that bit of real estate, looking after it for the next 20 or 30 years or for the rest of my life, until the day I die.

“So the concept of ‘do I own, do I rent?’ I think it’s nonsense,” Bouris said.

The Victorian government announced last year tenants in the state would be allowed the option of 10-year leases as part of a standard tenancy agreement.

Bouris said despite Australia’s obsession with buying houses, long-term renting is seen as completely normal in other major cities, “especially in Paris”.

“And you can transfer the lease [in Paris],” he said. “I buy the lease from you, I get the lease, it’s a good deal, it might have another 20 years on it.”

The businessman described it as “an Australian thing” to be caught up in the labels of buying versus renting.

“But I don’t think young people think that way,” he said. “In our age group, it’s a status symbol, it’s an Australian thing and I think it’s an American thing too, but it’s not European”.

He said removing the need to keep up with the Joneses “would take a lot of pressure off everyone, everything”.

“Maybe the government should be doing something to encourage people to offer long leases and to people to take long leases and make them tradable.”

“I’d love to see that actually, I think it’s great,” Bouris said.

Mark Bouris stars in The Mentor on Seven on Mondays at 9pm. His podcast The Mentor is available via PodcastOne.