An article condemning Property Managers as social parasites.
Someone described property managers as the tapeworm in a rat, and it is very apt. The rat
being the landlord, the repulsive vermin feeding off others, and the tapeworm getting fat off both
the tenant, that feeds the landlord, and the landlord themselves. On average property managers
charge the landlord fee between 7.5 and 8.5 percent of the rent, as well as fees for other
services such as advertising the property, or doing credit checks.
Property managers have a deservedly poor reputation in New Zealand. A consumer.org.nz
study in 2018 found that tenants who dealt with a property manager were much more likely to
report their home lacked adequate heating and had problems with persistent mold. The survey
also found that, compared with private landlords, property managers were also more likely to
delay getting repairs done; Forty-two percent of tenants who had to deal with a property
manager said they had made requests for repairs but were kept waiting for a response. They
were also more likely to worry about the blowback if they complained, fearing they’d be given
notice or stung with a rent increase. Overall, just 35% rated their property manager’s service
Peruse any newspaper or news site, or the Tenancy tribunal decisions and there will be stories
of property managers behaving badly. Often these will involve retaining the bond due to
“damage” or cleaning costs, even charging for light bulbs. If people do complain there are many
instances where the tenant won a tribunal hearing because the property manager didn’t come to
the hearing. This means they tied up the tenant’s bond and made them take time off work for a
case that they couldn’t be bothered showing up to argue.
Often the property manager will fight over small amounts because it is worth their while. If a
property manager can get nine tenants out of 10 to agree to an unreasonable demand for $100
– and many do just pay up and move on – it’s worth their effort to go to the Tribunal for the 10th
tenant, even when they lose, and it sends a message that they’re willing to pursue such petty
actions as a warning to future tenants who may wish to complain about unfair charges. Also, if
you come across as a difficult tenant you may well end up on unofficial blacklists, the proof of
which has recently come to light with the privacy commissioner investigating the existence of
private Facebook groups where tenants who have stuck up for their rights see their names
swapped between landlords and property managers, making it difficult to get future rentals.
As a tenant, all you need to do is leave a property “reasonably clean and tidy”. If a landlord
wants it to be deep cleaned for the next tenant, then they should fund that themselves, not use
a property manager to literally steal it from the outgoing tenant.
A Spinoff article in 2019 entitled “How I fought my property manager and won” detailed how you
can stop this from happening to you.
“When your landlord demands a cleaning fee, or a carpet cleaning fee, or any other fee
that you don’t feel is justified at the end of a tenancy, say no. Your email to them doesn’t
need to be any more than two letters: “no”. Don’t explain yourself. Don’t write a sermon.
Don’t respond to their emotive pleas. Just say no.
Then they’ll drop the fee down by a significant amount, to make you feel like you’re
getting a deal. Say no to that. Then they’ll drop the price even lower. You know what to
do – say no again.
They’ll say that they’re going to take you to Tribunal. Tell them that that’s fine, and you
look forward to it. At the same time, ask them to release the not-in-dispute portion of
your bond. When they inevitably say no, file a claim of your own to get it back. When you
win that claim, they’ll have to refund you your $20 fee.
And then go to your hearing. If you left the place reasonably clean and tidy, you’ll almost
certainly win. If you didn’t, you’ll be no worse off than you would have been had you
agreed to the property manager’s offer. And in the meantime, your property manager
had to spend a pretty significant chunk of time arguing over just a few hours of their
hourly rate. The main cost of this is that you’ll have to wait a while for your bond. But if
you have the resources to do this, you should! Not for you, but for the thousands of
people who don’t have the money to weather this fight. By going to Tribunal, you’re
making it more expensive for property managers to shake tenants down at the end of a
tenancy. If enough tenants stick up for themselves, property managers won’t be able to
justify these small-scale shakedowns.”
Of all the property managers out there one stands out as the very worst. Search for Quinovic
on the New Zealand sub of Reddit to see the horror stories. Just recently they made the news
for charging extortionate fees for reference checks, with one person saying they were charged a
$287.50 fee for running a reference check. The Citizens Advice Bureau in Wellington said the
charge seemed to be a “letting fee in disguise”. Letting fees were banned in December 2018,
and it seems Quinovic is simply recouping the cost in other ways.
AWSM has had its own run-in with Quinovic. A few months after we reposted a Reddit post
on Facebook, where someone described Quinovic as the scum of the earth and mentioned a
Quinovic property manager by name, we got an irate email from someone telling us they are
going to take us to court, and they have reported us to Netsafe, the police, and the media for
hate speech. Not too sure how many of those were contacted by her but Netsafe did get in
touch with us asking us to remove the person’s name as she had suffered great distress. We did
agree to this replacing the letters of the name with x’s but leaving the post up (search our
Facebook page for Quinovic to see it). This of course raises the question are Quinovic and their
employees using Netsafe to sanitise the internet of any bad references to Quinovic and are
Netsafe being unwitting dupes?
It is important to fight your property manager if you think they’re treating you badly or wrongly,
learn your rights and challenge them every step of the way. If they try to charge you for cleaning
at the end of the tenancy, tell them you won’t be paying their fees. They will probably pull out
every stop to try to get you to pay, but ignore it all. Continuously say no, make them take you to
Tribunal if you can afford to wait for your bond. Use social media to let everyone know about
their wrongdoings. You aren’t just doing it for yourself. By making the property manager’s life
more difficult you are helping every other renter in the country and helping to get rid of the
parasite in the rat.