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Changes in the wind for property managers bill

Submissions have already been filed as the new government steps in.

By: Sally Lindsay

2 December 2023

Changes are expected to the the Residential Property Managers Bill introduced to Parliament in August by the previous Labour government.

The bill covers about 42 per cent of the residential tenancy market and involves compulsory registration and licensing for individual property managers and their organisations, training and entry requirements, practice standards, and a complaints and disciplinary process to be administered by The Real Estate Authority.

It does not include private landlords, Kainga Ora or registered community housing providers.

If Chris Bishop is appointed Housing Minister in the National-led coalition government he has indicated to the Residential Property Managers Association (RPMA) he is open to discussing changes to the bill.

RPMA chair David Pearse says while the association is for regulation of property managers, it believes the bill as it is written is hugely bureaucratic and doesn’t improve the quality of service to tenants or property owners.

At the association’s recent annual meeting, he said Bishop had indicated he would listen with an open ear to suggestions for changes.

RPMA vocal

New submissions on the bill have already been sent to Bishop. Pearse says Bishop indicated he will study them and take the trajectory of the bill from there. Whether Bishop is appointed Housing Minister or not, the association will be seeking a meeting as soon as possible with the new appointee.

The RPMA has been vocal in recommending private landlords be included in the bill. Of the submissions received on the previous government’s original proposal, 182 thought private landlords should be included in the legislation.

When the bill was first proposed the RPMA suggested the then government follow the Rent Smart Wales system. All immediate rental landlords in Wales have to register, providing personal details, addresses of rental properties they own, and details of those responsible for the letting and/or management activities at the rental property. A landlord registration lasts five years and details are open for scrutiny through a free public register.

The RPMA lobbied the Labour government for a similar system, but it fell on deaf ears. “Evidence shows that in countries where all landlords are regulated there is high compliance with the law,” says Pearse. “It makes a far more stable environment and lifts the standards of rentals and landlords.”

The exact number of landlords in New Zealand is unknown and is difficult to calculate, he says. “Nobody really knows the state of the market. Designing a regulatory system specifically for property management companies and employees will make it hard to incorporate mum and dad private landlords into it in the future,” he says.

Private landlords say they don’t need to be regulated because they are handling tenants’ rent directly and are hardly going to rip themselves off. If tenants have complaints they can have them heard through the Tenancy Tribunal, which can penalise landlords.

The RPMA also opposed the Real Estate Authority administering the complaints and disciplinary process. It says the Housing and Urban Development Ministry will be far better as it operates in and understands the rental market through its Tenancy Services division.

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