Marlborough Property Investors' Association

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Pre tenancy checks can prevent fraud

The Department of Building and Housing is encouraging people seeking rental accommodation to check the credentials of landlords and their representatives following media reports of tenants paying bond money to bogus property managers.

“The Department has recently become aware of substantial bonds and rent in advance being paid to a property manager, and then being unable to move into the property or to trace their landlord and the money they’ve paid.” says the Department’s Manager, Client Services, Jeff Montgomery.

“This is fraud and these tenants have, quite rightly, gone to the police. We encourage anyone who finds themselves in this situation to do the same or call the Department for advice”, he says.

The Department suggests prospective tenants carry out pre-tenancy checks to prevent this kind of fraud.

“This will ensure the person they are dealing with is genuine and that the tenancy runs smoothly, and in a business-like fashion,” Jeff Montgomery says.

He suggests prospective tenants do the following when dealing with a landlord or property manager:

  • Pay your bond to your landlord as a cheque made out to the Department of Building and Housing.
  • Pay rent in advance only when you take possession of the property, not before.
  • Ask to see their identification, noting their full name and any relevant identification numbers such as a driver’s licence number.
  • Check if they are a member of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand Inc (REINZ) or the Independent Property Managers Association (IPMA)
  • Get their physical street address not just a Post Office box number
  • Check their details in the yellow pages, by contacting the office directly or by talking with other local property management companies
  • Make sure your tenancy agreement accurately reflects the arrangements between you and your landlord, and keep a copy of the tenancy agreement and the bond receipt

Further information and advice for tenants can be located on the Department’s website or by contacting the Department on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).