2 May 2024

Renters and realtors upset at scrapping of bill to regulate property managers

1:34 pm on 2 May 2024
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The Housing Minister said the bill would not be considered because the cost-benefit analysis was marginal and uncertain. Photo: 123rf.com

Renters and realtors are upset with a government decision to scrap a bill meant to regulate property managers over concerns about unethical and unlawful behaviours.

They say the current state of the property management sector lacked any minimum standards or basic checks and balances to protect tenants and landlords.

However, Housing Minister Chris Bishop told Parliament's Social Services and Regulations Committee to stop considering the bill this week, indicating the cost-benefit analysis was marginal and uncertain.

The bill would have established a regulatory regime for property managers, including minimum entry requirements, professional standards of practice, and a complaints and disciplinary process.

Renters United spokesperson Luke Somervell told Morning Report the current situation was akin to the Wild West, leaving renters exposed to rogue operators.

Real Estate Institute chief executive Jen Baird said the industry was "extremely disappointed" with the decision to scrap the bill.

"In an industry where a modest one-person property management business can oversee assets totalling $60 million in retirement savings, it is inconceivable that such a significant sector remains unregulated," Baird said.

"No other profession handling assets of this magnitude operates without oversight in New Zealand."

However, Bishop said in statement that regulation was not the answer.

"Adding more regulation to the rental property market isn't the way to open up more housing supply," he said.

"Instead we need our officials working on policies that will make a real difference to improving housing supply, such as our sensible changes to the Residential Tenancies Act which will encourage more landlords into the market and apply downward pressure to rents."

However, Baird said the housing crisis was a separate issue.

"Currently there are no minimum standards requiring residential property managers to ensure they are up to speed on landlord and tenant laws," she said.

"There is no legal requirement for property managers to hold insurance.

"There are no checks and balances to ensure tenant bonds and landlords' rent monies are protected in an independent trust account.

"Rent and bond fraud is not uncommon. Having no safeguards for client funds puts landlords and tenants at risk."

Baird said REINZ had advocated for regulation for more than five years and would not give up its fight.

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