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Property Management Update October 2020

By David Kneebone on 2020-10-19

Beehive ImageGetting up to speed in the regulatory space

Now that we’re back in Alert Level 1, at Lodge City Rentals we’re looking forward to making the most of the last quarter of the year. The rental market continues to be buoyant, with our team receiving over 650 tenant enquiries per week on average.

While the weather is feeling remarkably warmer hinting at the summer days that are just around the corner, 2020 is certainly not over yet, with a significant event upon us in the form of the general election.

Like many, we’ve been keeping an eye on the various party announcements and developments to see what might be coming for the housing and property management industry in the next three years.

At the start of the month, Labour announced that if re-elected they would introduce a code of conduct for property managers. Property management is currently unregulated in New Zealand, and Labour feels introducing industry standards would protect both property owners and tenants.

Under the policy, a property manager would need to do three things:

  1. Comply with a Code of Conduct
  2. Meet a good character test
  3. Follow a resolution framework for tenants and their advocates who have issues with their property managers.

 

At Lodge, we have supported the regulation of the industry for some time, so welcome this announcement. None of these points worry our team; we adhere to these ethical principles as it’s simply good business to do so. All our property managers hold a NZ Certificate in Property Management, and by regulating we can remove the risk unprofessional property managers pose to the reputation of the industry.

New Zealand is one of the few countries in the OECD that does not currently regulate property managers, so this is the time to make the change and get up to speed.

Recently there has been a lot of activity and various deadlines looming related to the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act and the Residential Tenancies Act. In this blog, we’ll recap the most immediate pending law changes and how they may affect you.

Understanding the upcoming law changes

You may remember that back in our June blog, we noted that due to Covid-19 and the restrictions Alert Levels 3 and 4 caused around property access, the Government extended the deadline for landlords to provide a compliance statement for the Healthy Homes standards.

The deadline was extended to 1 December 2020, which is now rapidly approaching. So, if you haven’t completed this compliance yet, you’ll want to get going. Remember that the statement should provide detailed information about how a property meets the Healthy Homes standards.

If you would like help with your compliance statement, the Lodge Rentals team can help. In fact, we are already 80% of the way through accessing our portfolio and establishing their statements, so are well-versed in what needs to be included.

In August we saw the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 passed, with two of the law changes taking effect on 12 August in regards to:

  1. transitional and emergency housing
  2. rent increases

 

You’ll likely remember how rent increases were frozen at the end of March due to the Covid-19 lockdown. This freeze has now ended as of 25 September and increases can be made once again, however landlords are now limited to only making rent increases once every 12 months.

The bulk of the law changes from this Act come into force from 11 February 2021, then phase 3 will take effect by 11 August 2021 (but may come into force earlier if the Government agrees). Some highlights of the law changes coming in February include:

  • Security of rental tenure: landlords cannot end a periodic tenancy without cause by providing 90 days’ notice.
  • Changes for fixed-term tenancies: all fixed-term tenancy agreements will convert to periodic tenancies at the end of the fixed-term, unless the parties agree otherwise.
  • Tenants are now able to make minor changes to a property.

While I do have some concerns about the policing of these new laws, I’m hoping that goodwill and common sense will prevail.

The Lodge team understand that getting your head around all these law and regulatory changes and ensuring you meet all deadlines can be a time-consuming and daunting task.

We’re already receiving a steady flow of enquiries from our existing landlords to understand the legislation requirements, and our professional team of property managers are always here to help and provide advice whenever needed.

We look forward to working with you to confirm compliance over the coming months!

Until next time,

David Kneebone

Director, Lodge City Rentals

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