Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson said tenants who dealt with a property manager were much more likely to report their home lacked adequate heating and had persistent mould.
“Compared with private landlords, property managers were also more likely to delay getting repairs done. Forty-two percent of those who dealt with a property manager said they’d made requests for repairs but were kept waiting for a response,” Ms Wilson said.
Just 35 percent rated their property manager’s service highly. In comparison, 54 percent of those with a private landlord were happy with the service they received.
Ms Wilson said tenants dealing with a property manager were also more likely to worry about the repercussions of making a complaint, fearing they’d be evicted or their rent would increase.
“Our survey shows the experience of tenants in today’s rental market varies hugely. But there’s a much higher chance you’ll get a bad deal if you rent through a property management company,” she said.
Overall, 29 percent of tenants said their rental didn’t have good heating or insulation. Twenty-six percent said the property had mould that was difficult to remove or reappeared.
Nearly one in four reported their landlord would turn up unannounced, a breach of tenancy legislation. Eight percent said they’d been charged unexpected fees during the tenancy and six percent hadn’t been given required notice of a rent increase.
Consumer NZ is calling for changes to tenancy law to improve protection for renters. Ms Wilson said regulation of property managers needed to be included in law reforms signalled by the government.
“We’ve previously reported on problems in this industry, which has attracted complaints from both renters and landlords. Our survey provides further evidence voluntary self-regulation of property managers isn’t working,” Ms Wilson said.
Consumer NZ also wants changes to tenancy law to improve security of tenure and is calling for a blacklist of unfair terms and fees.
“Close to one in 10 renters report being charged extra fees by their landlord or property manager. These fees are often not disclosed upfront and are charged unfairly. We want legislation to include a blacklist of unfair terms and fees to make the rules clear,” she said.
Consumer NZ is inviting anyone who has had a problem with a landlord or property manager to contact it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Consumer NZ’s survey
Consumer NZ surveyed 1062 consumers who rent their home.
Top problems reported at rental properties
29% Insufficient heating or insulation
28% Doors or windows that don’t close properly
26% Mould that’s difficult to remove or reappears
26% Water leaks
17% Appliance that doesn’t work properly
14% Locks that don’t work
More information about the results is available at consumer.org.nz and in the April edition of Consumer magazine.