New regulations on the way for residential property managers: what you should know

Being a landlord in New Zealand isn’t getting easier.

Guidelines introduced by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) earlier this year created new headaches for landlords handling renters’ personal data during the letting process.

Now the government wants residential property managers to be registered, trained, and licensed, according to new measures announced by Housing Minister Megan Woods earlier this month. The Government aims to introduce the bill into Parliament mid-2023.

Poorly behaving residential property managers

Minister Woods’ assessment of residential landlord and property manager behaviour appears to be a factor behind the new bill. Landlords like this one certainly don’t help.

“Sometimes tenants are vulnerable to poor behaviour from residential property managers, especially in a tight rental market. Following our moves to give tenants more protection through the Residential Tenancies Act, we made a manifesto commitment in 2020 to regulate residential property managers,” Woods said.

“This means that like many other professions such as real estate agents, builders and lawyers, they will have conduct and competency standards to abide by and if they don’t, they can be held to account.”

Woods said complaints about property managers would be dealt with through a new regulatory framework.

Lack of detail a cause for concern

Not everyone is pleased with the new regulations.

Residential Property Managers Association chairman David Pearse indicated that he supported the regulation of property managers. However, he did have a problem with the lack of detail.

“There is very little detail on how things will actually work in the one-pager. How can we submit or comment on something if we don’t know more detail,” he said.

The Property Investors Federation is also in favour of property managers being regulated, with the federation’s vice-president Peter Lewis suggesting that checks and balances should be in place because property managers handle other people’s money. “But it is not a guarantee of good behaviour. A rogue will still be a rogue even if they are a licenced rogue,” he said.

Meanwhile, National’s housing spokesperson Christopher Bishop said that his party was open to potential regulation of property managers, but that the party would have to see details and that it would be loath to do anything that might add more costs to the price of renting.

Healthy homes regulations also tweaked

Ever political, Healthy Homes regulations have become a proverbial football. Introduced by the Labour coalition Government in 2017, the regulations mandated heating and insulation in rental properties, with private landlords having to satisfy new standards by July 2021 for all new or renewed leases.

However, the government’s decision to give its own house builder and landlord an extension to July 2024 has been issued a yellow card by Bishop, who labelled the pushback “industrial strength hypocrisy.”

The delay could be a factor behind the government’s decision to extend the deadline for all private landlords to fulfil the healthy homes rules from 2024 to 2025.

Other proposals under consideration include new rules concerning methamphetamine residue levels and how tenancies can be terminated if the property was unsafe.

The government wants to regulate contaminated former methamphetamine drug dens, consulting with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to determine acceptable levels of methamphetamine residue and processes for decontamination.

“Nearly 600,000 households rent in New Zealand and these measures will result in regulated oversight of residential property managers, science-based rules on meth residue testing and a reprieve for landlords in meeting a compliance deadline,” Woods said.

Get up to speed with rental sector changes affecting property managers. Read Hon Dr Megan Woods’ full statement here. Or call your Goodwins property manager to discuss the main issues.