A property manager has called for inspections of 250,000 New Zealand residential rental properties to stop immediately, saying the coronavirus spread threat meant it was "madness" to continue.
David Faulkner of property management specialist Real-iQ, said 250,000 properties were professionally managed, many inspected quarterly resulting in up to 70,000 routine visits which he says are now dangerous.
"Surely, the right thing to do is to postpone all routine inspections, at least till the end of April? To allow our industry to walk into people's homes is simply not worth the risk. No one in their right mind is going to complain if an inspection is postponed by a couple of months. The well-being of tenants, managers and the wider community must come first," Faulkner said.
But new Real Estate Institute guidelines out yesterday take a different stance, instead advising members only to be more cautious and take precautions when inspecting properties.
Agents should also email tenants information before going to a routine property inspection under the new guidelines, REINZ advised. Tenants feeling unwell should tell the property manager before the inspection so that can be rescheduled.
Faulkner said properties needed to be inspected for insurance purposes.
"An insurance policy typically states that a routine inspection must be carried out every three months or six months. People are worried about being exposed to claims being declined by insurance companies. Surely under these circumstances, the Health and Safety at Work Act must kick in and insurance companies would come to the party," he said.
"If insurance companies refuse then inspections will continue. It is madness."
He wants managers to make better use of technology, using videos to assess repairs and maintenance.
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"We still have to keep our tenants warm and dry living in well-maintained properties, particularly as winter approaches. Areas such as South Auckland which have issues around overcrowding can be particularly at high risk," Faulkner said.
Economist Shamubeel Eaqub this week questioned whether property auctions should continue, given the numbers of people who attend such events.
"I suspect they will need to change how they do those. Social distancing is very effective but doesn't work if you are cramming people in," Eaqub said of busy auction rooms.
Kiri Barfoot, a Barfoot & Thompson director, said last week that trade was continuing briskly. Asked if the pandemic was having an effect, she said: "Sales are up, auction clearance rates up, multi-offers up, etc so our answer as we see it is no."