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Property Managers Scrutinised

Consumer NZ has used mystery shoppers to reveal how much information managers are collecting from renters. The results reveal that most are sticking by the rules.

By: Sally Lindsay

1 November 2022

Property managers are in the gun for asking potential renters to share more information than is legally allowed to secure a home, helping shape the case for regulation.

Consumer NZ recently used mystery shoppers to find out how much information rental property managers were collecting from renters, potentially breaching the Privacy Act.

Six percent of rental agents asked the mystery shoppers to include bank statements in their application for a rental, which is not allowed under the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s (OPC) guidance for tenants.

About 10 percent of agents encouraged the shoppers to volunteer extra information with a cover letter and rental CV, which could include information such as age, gender, relationship and employment status.


Some property managers said the more information the shopper gave, “the better their chances [of securing a rental property] and the smoother the process”.

One suggested extra information would “help the shopper’s application stand out from the others”.

Mystery shoppers also asked how their information would be stored, and 14 per cent of rental agents became noticeably disinterested in the caller when they asked about the privacy and security of their information.

One mystery shopper says the more questions she asked, the “less interested [the agent] seemed, and [he] almost got annoyed by them”.

As part of the study, Consumer asked people to share their experiences in the rental sector. This received one of the highest response rates in the watchdog’s history. Gray, a Christchurch 25-year-old, said her landlord asked “some really weird questions”, including how long she had held her phone number, and asked for her boss’ phone number to verify her place of work.

Gray was also asked to provide bank statements and salary details.


The OPC’s guidance for tenants says a landlord shouldn’t ask for bank statements to assess their spending habits. “Asking about how tenants spend their money is unfair and unreasonably intrusive, except in exceptional circumstances,” says the OPC.

Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy says the rental market remains tough in many areas of the country, and many prospective tenants are offering up more information than required just to get a shot at being considered.

“It’s concerning that some renters are expected and encouraged to give up sensitive private information, but it also raises questions about what happens to this information.”


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