Rental property managers getting away with illegal methods - Anglican report

Rental property managers are being accused of deceit, manipulation, and discrimination in a scathing new report.

The report by the Anglican church said some property managers are resorting to illegal methods when dealing with tenants - and are getting away with it.

It found the managers handled billions of dollars' worth of accommodation and millions of dollars in cash - but there was no legal oversight of the activities of property managers.

Property managers aren't required to have a licence, carry indemnity insurance or keep track of certain payments, the report said.

One tenant, who didn't want to be named, had a run-in with LPM Property Management in Wellington.

"A friend of ours was looking for a new flat, and they saw our current flat that we were living in listed on TradeMe up for rent. The price had been put up and we still had about two or three months left on our lease."

Another renter in Wellington, who didn't want his name made public, had a flatmate who wasn't paying his rent.

He said he and the other tenants had to terminate their lease because their property manager refused to help.

READ MORE: Why renters won't complain about landlords

"They knew the situation. They knew it was one person causing the problem, but because we were all signed onto the lease together they wouldn't intervene. They wouldn't kick him out.

"They said it was our problem and that we had to deal with it but because we were all on the lease together, we didn't have authority to kick him out. He was threatening us, avoiding us, very difficult to deal with - and that put a lot of pressure on us."

Housing Minister Phil Twyford was looking at ditching no-cause tenancy terminations, increasing the notice landlords have to give tenants if they are to end one and limiting rent increases to once a year.

But the conduct of property managers isn't up for scrutiny in the minister's review.

Jolyon White, director of the Anglican Advocacy Unit which wrote the report, said the evidence indicates the government should reconsider its position.

He said its decision not to enforce new laws in the property management sector in 2007 - which pushed for changes that were similar to those now being considered by the government - was a mistake.

"The decision was made then that it wasn't an urgent need and that there wasn't significant harm that was going to be caused. I would say the last 10 years has demonstrated that there has been significant harm caused - that decision was quite a serious oversight."

Mr White said some tenants are reluctant to step forward out of fear.

He said the current system wasn't doing them any favours.

"The majority of people are unwilling to talk about their problems because they know their ability to rent another place might be put in jeopardy by it.

"We want there to be an independent regulation or an oversight body of property managers because otherwise you have tenants who are in a vulnerable position very often, who have to bring their complaint to the people that they have the complaint with."

Rent Right Property Management Christchurch director David Hopkins said changes have to be made for the sake of the industry.

"There should be a standard for all managers - and that should be connected to ongoing education, just like it is in the real estate industry when you're selling property. The consumer needs to be protected and needs to know they're dealing with professionals."

Mr Hopkins said the industry was very professional, but new regulations will flush out the law breakers.

"[Property managers have to be] aware of tenancy law and the standards that are set by any regulating body - you need to know what they are. Operating trust accounts legally and effectively. Just good, solid standards within the industry."

The Anglican Advocacy Unit had recommended the government look at the existing regulation of real estate agents and other sectors in New Zealand - as well as rules in the United Kingdom.

It remains in talks with the government about having the changes implemented.

- By Dan Dalgety

rnz.co.nz


Wellington houses (file picture).
Wellington houses (file picture). Source: istock.com



South Auckland charity The Aunties takes home top Women of Influence Award

The founder of a South Auckland charity group dubbed The Aunties has won the top honour at the Women of Influence Awards.

Jackie Clark set up the not-for-profit organisation six years ago to help vulnerable women and children who've experienced domestic violence.

The group's primary aim is to provide material needs to those they support.

"The Aunties believe everyone has the right to be safe, to have shelter, to be fed, to be loved, to dream, to read, to write, to have their say, and to be heard," the group proclaims on its Givealittle page. "Where any of those things are missing, the Aunties mission is to help provide them - the practical things, and also in terms of advocacy and pastoral care."

The group says it believes in manaakitanga - protecting the mana of the people they help so that they can find their way towards living independently, and with dignity and joy.

"Jackie and her fellow Aunties give without seeking anything in return and without judgement," said Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean, whose company co-sponsors the Women of Influence Awards. "She, and her core of other Aunties, ask vulnerable women what they need and then set about making it happen, in a completely selfless way.

"They have made an enormous contribution to our local communities at grassroots level."

The award ceremony was held last night at SkyCity in Auckland.

Here's the full list of winners:
Supreme Winner: Jackie Clark
Lifetime Achievement: Theresa Gattung
Arts and Culture: Miranda Harcourt
Board and Management: Dr Farah Palmer
Business and Enterprise: Angie Judge
Rural: Rebecca Keoghan
Public Policy: Charlotte Korte
Community/Not for Profit: Jackie Clark
Innovation and Science: Professor Wendy Larner
Diversity: Sarah Lang
Global: Sarah Vrede
Young Leader: Maddison McQueen-Davies

Jackie Clark set up the non-for-profit six years ago, which aims to help vulnerable women and children who have experienced domestic violence. Source: Breakfast


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Eleven Glenorchy homes still without power 48 hours after early spring snowfall

Some resident in Central Otago's Glenorchy are still without power 48 hours after a spring snowfall caused major disruptions in the deep south.

Eleven properties remains with power this morning.

Aurora Energy is hoping to have power restored to the area by this evening.

Around 360 households in the central Otago town are affected, with Aurora Energy hoping to have electricity back on by this evening. Source: Breakfast

In many places power was cut, schools were closed and flights cancelled. Source: 1 NEWS

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Watch: Artist uses pyramid in central Auckland to spread some joy around town

A Kiwi artist are architect is using a pyramid in central Auckland to spread some joy.

Matt Liggins has made it his mission to ask people what makes them smile, but instead of rolling up to you on the street he's built a pyramid to help lighten people's moods.

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp's Lucas de Jong went along to take a look and share a laugh in the video above.

Matt Liggins has made it his mission to ask Kiwis what makes them smile. Source: Seven Sharp


Meet the transgender Wellington school caretaker brightening up kids' days

A transgender caretaker at a Wellington school has been using her musical talents to brighten up the kids' days.

Molly Mason was born as Michael, but soon discovered she was a female born in a man's body.

"I believe I'm a woman, and I associate as a woman, so I live my life as a woman," Molly told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Molly has a love of music that began when she was just six.

Now, in her role as caretaker at a Wellington school, she uses her talent to good effect by beat boxing with the kids at lunchtime.

"When I realised that beat boxing and making sounds was something I couldn't live without, that was it, nothing else mattered."

However, to be this woman - that little boy Michael, had a fight on his hands.

"I got bullied from primary school right through until the day I left college and left Blenheim."

Molly is now proud to be transgender and says the stage is her safe place. She performs as her drag alter ego called Bette Noir.

"Anything that makes me sad, makes me worried, makes me scared, anything that I find stressful, it's not there, it's gone." 

Seven Sharp’s Arrun Soma spoke with Molly Mason. Source: Seven Sharp