A well-functioning residential tenancies market is vital to ensuring New Zealanders have access to secure, healthy and affordable housing. Residential property managers play a significant role in that market, managing over 40% of New Zealand’s rental accommodation. The market has grown in recent decades and now houses nearly one in three New Zealand households.
While many property managers abide by appropriate professional standards established by the industry, the sector itself is not required to meet minimum competency and industry practice requirements. This presents significant risks to property owners, tenants and other consumers.
Without regulation, property owners have no assurance that property managers have the competencies required to manage their assets and meet their legal obligations. As a result, they can incur significant reputational damage and additional costs as a result of the property manager’s acts and omissions. Their return on investment and their asset's value may be compromised.
Tenants can face a significant power imbalance when dealing with property managers, particularly in a tight rental market. Consequently, tenants are less likely to raise issues for fear of losing their home or jeopardising their future ability to secure a rental property. They can experience discrimination and breaches of their rights under the Residential Tenancies Act and other legislation. Their tenancy can be at risk, which can impact adversely on their health, education and employment.
The introduction of legislation is intended to promote public confidence in how residential property management services are delivered and protect the interests of property owners, tenants and other consumers by:
- establishing professional entry standards for residential property managers
- establishing industry practice standards
- providing accountability through an independent, transparent and effective disciplinary and complaints resolution process.
The proposed regulatory model includes:
- regulating both individuals and organisations
- registering and licensing of individuals providing property management services, this could be expanded to include organisations
- professional entry requirements that include an age requirement, fit and proper person test and education/training
- industry practice standards including continued professional development requirements, a Code of Conduct, indemnity and public liability insurance, and Trust Accounts
- complaints and disciplinary system that allows for complaints to be escalated depending on the seriousness
- offences and penalties for individuals and companies
- regulatory management of the industry.
Harcourts property managers and offices are already meeting much of what is proposed in the regulatory model. We are supportive of the regulation of the property management industry and anticipate the commencement of the regulation in mid-2025.
These articles were featured in Property Management Focus Issue 4, 2022