Auckland-based real estate giant Barfoot & Thompson has hiked a fee charged to some tenants by more than 140 per cent.

The tenant change fee is levied on renters when they decide to bring a new flatmate into the property.

Samantha Arnold, general manager for Property Management, told the Herald the fee was an "industry standard" to meet internal costs associated with occupancy changes.

"There are a number of costs carried by the company in this process, not limited to staff time, administration and sundry expenses, and fees associated with due diligence.


"A change of occupancy is not simply a case of filling in a form - we must treat it in the same way we would an end of tenancy and effectively enter a new legal agreement for the remaining and new tenants.

"The previous change of occupancy fee did not meet these expenses and was raised to more accurately reflect the true cost associated. This charge has been agreeable by the Tenancy Tribunal thus far and is seen as a fair and genuine cost to our business."

One News reported, according to emails it had seen, that a renter had been charged $172.50 for an occupancy change fee in March last year, a figure that had more than doubled to $417.05 in March 2019.

Other Auckland property management agencies either don't charge a fee, or charged up to $120, according to those One News spoke with.

Earlier this year an Auckland lawyer warned renters to look out for questionable property management fees after a man was charged for transferring his rental into his niece's name.

His warning came amid fears property managers would use such charges as a loophole to get around the new ban on letting fees.

The Government banned the charging of letting fees to new renters in December, arguing property managers should instead recover their costs from landlords.

But a former West Auckland tenant told the Herald he was hit with a $250 fee when he left his Glendene rental and sought to have his niece take over the property.


The man suspected the charge was a letting fee in disguise for his niece's new tenancy.

His property managers Impression Real Estate later dropped the fee.