No more lording it abroad

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Property investors preparing for a conference in Queenstown are reminding landlords of their obligations if they travel overseas. 

Juliet Robinson, from property management company Quinovic, says many landlords are unaware that they must appoint an agent if they leave New Zealand for more than 21 days. 

Failure to do so can incur a fine of up to $1000, Robinson says. 

The change, under the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2010, is welcomed by Martin Evans, immediate past president of the NZ Property Investors Federation. 

The federation is holding its first Queenstown conference, starting next Friday. 

“Previously the landlord might not like to tell a tenant that he’s off to Spain for a few weeks because the tenant already thinks he’s a capitalist for having all these properties, so he’d sneak off. 

“The tenant would then have a problem with a burst pipe or something, ring up and there’d be no one there.” 

Evans says a landlord can appoint anyone – say, their mum – as an agent. 

“You also have to tell the bond centre that this person is your agent while you’re away. 

“So if the tenant happens to leave while you’re away and they want their bond back, that person has the authority to give them their bond back.” 

Evans’ federation represents property investors who generally manage their own properties. 

“They join our association to be more professional about their business and to network because buying a property and being a landlord is quite a lonely business and you’ve got no one to talk to.”

Robinson notes 30 per cent of NZ’s residential rental properties are professionally managed, up from only 10 per cent 20 years ago. 

Management is more involved than having a real estate agent let a property and charge a week’s rental as a letting fee, she suggests. 

“Managing a property is now more complex, more time-consuming and harder work, especially with changing legislation.” 

Quinovic, NZ’s largest privately-owned residential property management company, is looking for a franchisee to launch a Queenstown operation. 

Robinson, its national business development manager, says the resort has become more affordable for property investors. 

“In the CBD there is a good pool of accommodation ranging from older crib-style properties to new apartments and houses. 

“However there is also an over-supply of apartments. 

“This came after the property boom of the early 2000s when they sold for a premium. 

“Their value has reduced significantly since late 2008 making them a better buy for investors. 

“But we’d suggest making comparisons and seeking an independent rental appraisal before making a commitment as not every property is an economic proposition.”