Lack of regulation details frustrates property managers

Sparse detail around the Government’s regulation of property managers is frustrating David Pearse, Residential Property Managers Association (RPMA) president.

Apart from a discussion document last year, Pearse says Housing Minister Megan Woods announcement that property managers and meth testing for houses is to be regulated, there is no other detail.

He has been trying to get clarification from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development on the details, but says there is such a high turnover of policy advisers it is dead end leading to a blank sheet.

He says the RPMA made submissions to the discussion document and is disappointed Woods did not provide any context around the regulations. “We want to be the supplier of information around the regulations for our members.  We already provide training, including entry requirements into the industry and continuing professional development and do everything that was in the discussion document. Whether that document is going to be the basis for the new regulations has not been made clear.”

The discussion document proposed:

  • property managers must be 18 years of age, pass a fit and proper person test and undertake education/training  with a basic course of 15 hours;
  • industry standards included 20 hours a year of continuing professional development, indemnity and public liability insurance and trust accounts (including independent review with periodic audits as required by the regulator);
  • if a property manager committed an offence under the new legislation, they can be fined up to $40,000 and if a company does
  • the same, it can be fined up to $100,000;
  • Ministry of Housing and Urban development be appointed to oversee and report on the performance of the regulatory authority.

Woods says the Real Estate Authority will be the regulator and the Real Estate Agents Authority will have its role expanded to include  dealing with complaints about property management-related issues.

“Again there is no detail about how this will operate,” says Pearse. The RPMA wanted the regulator to be MBIE, which already deals with residential bonds and the Tenancy Tribunal. “It would be a far better fit as it is already regulating 42% of the industry, knows it and a good relationship could be built between it and property managers.”

MBIE also takes landlords to the Tenancy Tribunal over bad property maintenance affecting tenants. Recently, in a case it prosecuted, a landlord was fined more than $100,000 for uninhabitable properties in some cases. 

Pearse suspects the regulation’s final details won’t be revealed until legislation is introduced to Parliament in the middle of next year. ‘It will definitely be passed before next year’s election, so Labour can say it has kept its manifesto promise.”

He hopes it will not be passed under emergency as the new RTA regulations were. “In the third reading of the RTA bill, family violence and other issues were added with no input from the industry. Because it was so vague it was left up to MBIE to sort out the detail and this has caused headaches.”  

Woods says a well-functioning residential property management market is vital to ensuring renters have access to secure, healthy and affordable housing and Pearse doesn’t disagree, he just wants the frustration of not knowing how it will work to end.

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