Landlords, understandably, want to know as much as they can about their tenants.

For many property owners, their rental is their retirement nest egg and they want the most reliable person they can find to live there.

Landlords want to know that a tenant will take care of the property, as well as paying the rent on time.


But they certainly don't need access to someone's bank statements to work that out.

The Herald revealed this week that New Zealand landlords are demanding copies of prospective tenants' bank statements. Auckland-based property manager Rachel Kann told a select committee last month on whether New Zealand should scrap letting fees that she routinely asks prospective tenants for bank statements.

"They're paying somebody's mortgage and I see a lot of people who are low socio-economic and their bank statements literally will read, 'KFC, McDonald's, the dairy, KFC, McDonald's, court fine', trucks that they buy, goods that they can't afford. You know, I see a lot of mismanagement of money."

If someone has good references and credit, what business is it of a property manager on how much they spend on fast food?

The Real Estate Institute said yesterday that property managers asking for bank statements was another sign that they should be regulated.

"It's important that property managers carry out due diligence on behalf of their clients (landlords), but the focus needs to be around ascertaining whether a tenant has stable employment and can pay the rent, not whether they spend their disposable income on KFC or Uber Eats," Institute chief executive Bindi Norwell said yesterday.

"It's essential that discussions are had urgently around appropriate methods for undertaking a credit check whether it be an employer reference, bank statement or a pay slip. That needs to be regulated by the Government and then communicated to the industry so that there is a consistent standard across the country," she said.

It's important, too, that the privacy rights of tenants are recognised.


Gone are the days of using cash for everything — when buying a couple of beers at the pub, splashing out on expensive shoes or regular takeaways were known only to the buyer.

In today's cashless society our spending is laid out in black in white on our bank statements.

There's a lot that can be learned about a person from what they put in their supermarket trolley — but that is only part of the picture. A bank statement is about as personal as things get in today's society.

Expensive bond payments are often required before a prospective tenant is given the keys to a house. Alongside credit checks, that should be enough. Your landlord does not need to know exactly how much you earn or what you spend your money on.

Asking for an individual's bank statements is a step too far.