Broad support for regulation of property mangers

Next year’s introduction of a Government bill to regulate property managers has been a long time coming, says the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ).

As the industry body representing 97% of New Zealand’s licensed real estate agents — and managers of more than half of the rentals under professional management — REINZ has advocated for change for several years. Three years ago it conducted a public Call for Change campaign to encourage the Government to act and consult with the industry to develop regulations.

REINZ made public submissions to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in April this year and received more than 328 individual items of feedback on the ministry’s proposed regulatory framework, which 93% of its members supported.

REINZ chief executive Jen Baird says it is imperative property management services are regulated so there are standards and safeguards in place for a sector where millions of dollars are collected in rent each week and which has an impact on something as important as someone’s home.

New Zealand Property Investors Federation (NZPIF) vice president Peter Lewis says members are generally in favour of the legislation, particularly making property managers carry trust accounts. Until now property managers have not had to account for the millions of dollars in rent that passes through their hands. “There have been plenty of horror stories of property managers pocketing landlords’ money.”

He says the new regulations will obviously increase property managers’ overhead costs and this will filter down to tenants in higher rents over time. 

Lewis says while lawyers, doctors, accountants and other professionals have been regulated for some time, it has not stopped rogues operating within those professions and it will be the same for property management. “Just because property managers have to adhere to a strict set of new laws doesn’t mean the odd one won’t operate outside of them.”

Self-managing landlords will not be regulated and Lewis says a meeting with the Housing Ministry and MBIE a couple of weeks ago reinforced this. “There is no intention to licence self-managing landlords. We would hardly be ripping ourselves off.”

The NZPIF offers a self-managing landlord course and encourages its 3,500 members responsible for about 60,000 tenancies to undertake it. It not only covers the legal responsibilities of landlords and a professional attitude towards tenants but also other areas, such as improving the value of a property.   

REINZ’s Baird says regulation recognises the importance of professional property managers and will bolster confidence in the residential tenancy market as a whole,” she says. “The Real Estate Authority, which already regulates real estate professionals, will regulate residential property managers — a move our members support.”

Acceptable maximum level of methamphetamine residue

The inconsistency in the measurement of methamphetamine residue has caused confusion and concern for some time, says Baird.

“It is important there is clarification of what level of methamphetamine residue is permissible, and who is liable for the cost of decontamination.”

Currently, there are two different methamphetamine testing levels — the methamphetamine testing and remediation standard NZS 8510 (considered best practice at 1.5 µg/100cm2) and the Gluckman Report (15 µg/100 cm2).

This has caused uncertainty for landlords, property managers, tenants and insurers. The Government is inviting public submissions before the standard is clarified in binding regulations on:

  • what the acceptable maximum level of methamphetamine residue is;
  • what levels those homes should be decontaminated to, and;
  • when tenancies should be terminated due to high levels of residue.
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