Real estate company advised renting homes too leaky to sell at a good price

Real estate company The Professionals says it'll be removing advice on its site that appeared to recommend renting out homes that are too leaky to sell at a good price.

In a blog post, chief executive Mike Henderson detailed a number of options sellers of homes with substandard cladding could consider to ease the process. They included having an inspection, getting an up-to-date valuation and a repair quote to help buyers, and prepping the home for post-sale repairs.

But it was the final recommendation that caught the eye of one reader, who alerted Newshub.

"If your property defects are too significant for re-cladding, you could look at renting it out until land values have risen, offsetting the cost of rebuilding," it read.

The Professionals
The ill-advised advice. Photo credit: The Professionals

Robert Whittaker of Renters United said it was poor advice.

"It's sad but unsurprising see this advice being given to property owners," he said.

"The poorest quality housing in New Zealand is in the private rental market and because we still don't have adequate rental housing standards - or a good system to enforce them - landlords can get away with renting out homes that are dangerous."

Mr Henderson told Newshub the intention wasn't to recommend landlords rent out homes which were unliveable.

"What we were trying to do, in a punchy way, is say if the first four [options] don't work for you, you do have other options - and that could be you rent it out," he said.

"It depends - some leaky is not bad leaky. We were just looking to say, here's another option... If you were to rent it out, you've got a responsibility to disclose."

After Newshub told him it sounded like he was telling people to rent out homes that weren't fit to live in, he said that was not the intention.

"One of the good things about blogs is they're real-time and you can actually change wording such as this.

"I'm seeing it through your eyes now. You have blogs crafted for you and you obviously sign them off... I'm going to be changing that straight away."

The Government is presently consulting on its planned standards for rental homes. The Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill passed its third reading in November 2017 allowing standards to be set, but it didn't actually set the standards itself.

"At the end of the day, we need standards to protect renters and to put rental housing on the same playing field as owner occupied homes," said Mr Whittaker, "and we need the Government to step up and enforce those standards so renting out a damp house isn't seen as an easy way out of a costly repair."

A spokeswoman for Housing Minister Phil Twyford said it was already illegal to rent out a home that's unfit for living.