Real Estate Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan wants pre-purchase building inspections to be regulated and a standard set for methamphetamine testing.

Ms O’Sullivan, who is leaving the institute in February, says the property industry needs to improve information buyers have before making a purchase and to better protect landlords from those managing their properties.

Pre-purchase building inspections don’t have to meet any standard and the practitioners aren’t required to be licensed, she says.

“This has been a big issue with leaky homes and there have been lots of cases where vendors and purchasers have been misled.”

The Building Officials Institute of NZ, which is a voluntary not-for-profit, does provide a building surveyor accreditation.

But REINZ wants it to be mandatory for building inspections to meet an audited standard and also for building inspectors to have professional indemnity insurance in case purchasers later discover problems with their house.

“You have a guy who’s been building for 20 years and then buys a thermal imaging camera on the internet and sets up as a building inspector with a limited liability company and no professional indemnity cover,” she said.

“When his reports are found to be not that flash, he is nowhere to be found.”

Ms O’Sullivan said REINZ had also written to government ministers calling for a standard agreement on what constitutes proper methamphetamine testing of houses suspected of having been used as P labs, so those paying for them can rely on the quality of the results.

Another issue she’s concerned about is property management which was deregulated under the 2008 changes to the Real Estate Act. Many real estate agencies have a property management arm which comes under regulation of the Real Estate Agents Authority as part of their agency licence but others don’t face the same oversight, she said.

Anecdotally there had been a number of cases where property managers have absconded with landlords’ money.

REINZ wants to see all property managers come under the REAA, a requirement for rent money to be kept in trust accounts and some method of registration so that those who do transgress can’t just easily pop up again in the market somewhere else.


By Fiona Rotherham