Anglican Advocacy has released a report of firsthand evidence that some property managers in Aotearoa New Zealand are getting away with substandard and illegal practices.
The report, which is backed by Community Law Canterbury CEO Paul O'Neill, and Head of Research at Consumer NZ Jessica Wilson, shows both advocates and industry figures agree that regulation of property managers is long overdue.
The report has the support of a group of Canterbury-based property managers and tenants’ advocates who fronted up for the launch in Christchurch on Wednesday 29 August.
Entitled, A Decade Overdue: The need for regulation of property management in New Zealand the report was published by Anglican Advocacy, and includes accounts from landlords and tenants across the country about a wide range of issues they have faced when dealing with property managers.
Some of the accounts are particularly shocking, including a property manager in Christchurch who failed to get a house ready for occupancy. There was no electricity in the kitchen, sewage from the toilet spilled out by the back door, and the electrical wiring had been done by a friend of the property manager who wasn’t a registered electrician.
The report concludes with key recommendations, including mandatory training and licensing of property managers, and the establishment of a regulatory body equivalent to those of other service industries in New Zealand.
Director of Anglican Advocacy Jolyon White says the findings in the report are consistent with those of other groups calling for regulation of the property management industry.
“The government had the opportunity to regulate the property management industry ten years ago, but decided it was not justified. This was contrary to advice from the Select Committee, and the majority of submissions from property owners, real estate agents, and property managers themselves,” Mr White said.
“Property managers have access into people’s homes, and handle billions of dollars worth of assets. It is unbelievable that they are not required to have a licence or any form of accreditation.
Jolyon says Anglican Advocacy has seen evidence of real harm that substandard property managers have caused to vulnerable tenants.
“Since the report 10 years overdue came out we have been contacted by people with ongoing horror stories that they are simply too scared to report, because they cannot afford to move. In one case life-long medical complications have come from a substandard rental.”
The report says failing to regulate property managers was a mistake, and with the housing and tenancy sector currently under review, now is the opportune time to remedy this.
According to Jolyon, some of the practices uncovered are already unlawful, but many are not, or are of uncertain legal status. The report outlines how this demonstrates there is insufficient regulation and enforcement.
“A lack of regulation is causing harm to tenants and landlords alike, as well as to property managers who are striving to operate ethically and professionally.” he said.
“There are really good property managers out there who help landlords and tenants alike with their obligations under the RTA (Residential Tenancies Act). They must be pulling their hair out in frustration that these horror stories are bringing their entire industry into disrepute.”
Jolyon says calls for self-regulation have surfaced that propose placing responsibility with a recent partnership formed between the Independent Property Managers Association and the Property Institute of New Zealand – and, he says the government appears to be considering that option.
But Anglican Advocacy and other tenants’ advocates agree that both of those groups - property investors and property managers - explicitly exist for the interests of the property owners, which still leaves renters without well-enforced industry standards for protection.
Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson said voluntary self-regulation of the property management industry had failed.
“Our research shows tenants who rent through a property management company are significantly more likely to experience problems, including delays in getting repairs done. They’re also more likely to worry about the repercussions of making a complaint.”
Ms Wilson said regulation was needed to improve protection for renters and ensure property managers were up to the job.
Paul O’Neill, CEO of Community Law Canterbury, agreed: “Community Law Canterbury supports an effective code for property managers. They have been unregulated for too long.”
The full report is available online at www.anglicanadvocacy.org.nz/projects/property-management
Anglican Advocacy is the social justice arm of the Anglican Church in Canterbury. They work for social change beyond charity by leading and supporting key campaigns, as well as teaching and partnering with other groups.