The Government must protect renters and landlords by forcing rogue property managers to become licensed and accredited, leading real estate agents, industry insiders and lobbyists say.
The 26 organisations - including Real Estate Institute NZ, Barfoot and Thompson, leading property managers association and lobby group Anglican Advocacy - said the issue was so important they had united to seek action.
They today presented an open letter to Housing Minister Phil Twyford, calling on him to introduce laws to regulate property managers by 2019.
Twyford said he shared concerns about the sector but would only act after the Government finished introducing higher-priority laws to protect tenants.
However, Anglican Advocacy director Joylon White hoped reforms came quickly.
Property managers delivered an important service as an intermediary between landlords and renters, but rogue operators had increasingly brought the industry into disrepute, he said.
"They hold billions in assets and millions of dollars in trust. They profile applicants, hold personal information, and the keys to people's homes. They hold the wellbeing and wealth of many New Zealanders in their hands," he said.
"It is unacceptable that they are not currently required to have a licence or any form of accreditation."
The appeal for reform comes as stories have emerged this year of property managers charging a fee to process applications faster and asking to see the bank statements of prospective tenants so they could make judgments about their spending habits.
A recent report by Anglican Advocacy compiled dozens of first-hand, anonymous accounts from tenants and landlords about negligence, deceit, discrimination, privacy breaches and dishonesty by property managers.
It said many of the problems experienced by landlords and tenants could be linked back to property managers.
Twyford said he had listened to concerns over the behaviour of some property managers but currently had a "full programme" of reforms aimed at improving the lives of renters.
However, "once these big work programmes are completed", he would be willing to look at issues with property managers.
Barfoot & Thompson director Kiri Barfoot was one of the letter's signatories and urged Twyford to live up to the promise, saying it would be an "opportunity lost" if the regulation of property managers was not included in current reforms.
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REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell also said her team had spent 10 years calling for all property managers to be licensed in a similar way to real estate agents.
She said it would protect renters and landlords, "improve transparency and provide clear guidelines and expectations for the industry".
David Faulkner, a consultant with Real-iQ and a letter signatory, said most property managers were "good people" who "wanted to do the best they can", but the problems often arose from a lack of knowledge.
If property managers were qualified, trained and had a better support network, it would help ensure they delivered services to a higher standard, he said.
Regulation would also better ensure property managers place the millions of dollars in bond money they are thought to control into safe-keeping in trust accounts.
Anglican Advocacy's White, meanwhile, said the wide range of signatories to the open letter gave "the Government a strong mandate to act".
"We'd like to see a commitment to have legislation introduced to Parliament by this time next year," he said.