There are calls for regulation of property managers after one admitted she demands to see prospective tenants’ bank statements.
Auckland-based property manager Rachel Kann told a Social Services Select Committee she routinely asks for bank statements, and uses that information to decide whether to let a property.
"I don't just want to put a tenant into a property and no sooner have they been put in they can't afford the rent," Ms Kann told the select committee.
"They're paying somebody's mortgage and I see a lot of people who are low socio-economic and their bank statements literally will read, 'KFC, McDonalds, the dairy, KFC, McDonalds, court fine', trucks that they buy, goods that they can't afford. You know, I see a lot of mismanagement of money."
Lobby group Renters United told The AM Show the practice is discriminatory and more regulation is needed in the industry.
"It is an invasion of tenants' privacy under the Residential Tenancies Act discrimination is prohibited," spokesperson Kate Day said.
Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson said she had seen no evidence of this.
She echoed Ms Day's comments, telling RadioLIVE's Mark Sainsbury there are plenty ways to check the character of a prospective tenant.
She said landlords can request a reference check or ask for proof of employment and are protected by the bond paid when the tenant moves in.
Conversely there is no requirement for a property manager to pass any kind of good character test.
"We've been getting more complaints about this type of information being requested, really quite personal information," she said.
"Property managers who don't face any sort of regulation themselves, so really they're not subject to any good character test."
Andrew King from the Property Investors Federation told RadioLIVE Drive that he doesn’t endorse this practice.
“It’s not something that we actually teach our members as something to do to check out the quality of the tenant.
“However, you’ve got this really expensive asset that you are letting somebody into. It’s very, very difficult once a tenant is in it’s difficult to get them out – if they’re not performing correctly,” Mr King said.
“And it takes ages and that means a loss of money. There’s a lot of risk.”
Listen to the full interview with Andrew King above.