A call to regulate the property management industry was made this week following three high-profile cases where tenants have been badly treated by property managers.
Bindi Norwell, CEO of the Real Estate Institute, says one incident in Auckland saw tenants find maggots under their carpet; a Christchurch mother fought for six months to get curtains in her rental home and the third incident saw students in Dunedin take legal action over toxic mould.
Nowell says: "Since 2009, property managers have not been regulated which is why it is of great concern when we hear of incidents highlighted in the media about property managers not living up to consumers' expectations.
With no regulations in place it means anyone can become a property manager and there is no consistency across the industry — unless the property manager is also a licensed real estate agent."
Norwell says a lack of regulations means there are no protections in place for things such as holding money in a trust account. She says while there are many good property managers with high ethical standards and who adhere to the institute's code of agency practice, this is being undermined by people who don't have the same standards.
"This means that renters — who include some of our more vulnerable members of society — can potentially be taken advantage of, when in fact, we should be looking after renters and supporting them," says Norwell.
"While the Government is reviewing proposals to ban letting fees for tenants, if it really wants to help renters, it should regulate the property management industry as part of its wider review of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act.
"Our advice to landlords when talking to potential property managers is to ask if they have a trust account in place, have indemnity insurance, a disputes resolution process and if they are a REINZ member."