An Auckland property management company has come under fire for publishing an article that discouraged landlords from renting homes to people with intellectual disabilities.
Clarke Group Property Management titled its blog post: "15 Fatal Mistakes New Zealand Landlords Make When Signing a Tenancy Agreement".
The company dedicated one paragraph to "signing a tenancy agreement with a mentally disabled person". Although it acknowledged that it is illegal for landlords to discriminate against people with disabilities under the Human Rights Act, the blog post says that "complications can arise" when renting to someone with a mental disability because their mental state "can often be unpredictable".
Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero said she was "hugely disappointed" at the stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes expressed in the blog.
"These sorts of generalisations create unfair barriers for people who have the same right to be considered as tenants as anyone else in a very difficult housing market," she told Newshub.
A Clarke Group Property Management spokesperson told Newshub this particular blog post was produced by a third party and "obviously not written" by them.
"We typically approve each blog post in-house before it goes live, but it appears this one unfortunately slipped through the cracks," the spokesperson says.
"This is most certainly not the advice CGPM would give to our landlords, either current or prospective. We work entirely within the NZ Residential Tenancies Act, and are not discriminatory in any way to prospective tenants.
"A tenant with any kind of disability is treated exactly the same as with all our clients. We are a company that spends a lot of time with WINZ, mental health services and emergency/transitional housing clients as well, thus understand the sensitive nature."
The Community Law website says discrimination against people with disabilities includes when landlords decide not to rent a place to someone with an impairment, charging more rent compared to people without disabilities, and ending or not renewing a tenancy.
If a landlord is found to have discriminated against a tenant who is disabled, the Tenancy Tribunal can order them to pay a penalty of up to $4000.
The blog post, which has since been deleted, also appeared to discourage landlords from renting properties to underaged people.
"Many savvy landlords choose to avoid underaged tenants, given that they are new to renting, do not have experience taking care of a property, and are known for being fond of parties and loud music," the post said.
"The likelihood of damage increases when you're renting to an underaged tenant."
The Clarke Group spokesperson says as far as young people go, they base any decision on their references and credit checks, just "as we would with any other prospective tenant".
"If they were to be under 18, we understand there would have to be a mediation with Tenancy Services and the applicant would bring a support person along. The tenancy agreement would be then thoroughly reviewed by all."
Other pieces of advice Clarke Group gave in the post include landlords writing their own tenancy agreements and the importance of checking tenants' references.
The spokesperson says they will be amending the blog post to reflect their statements.
The company's website says it manages over 200 properties and helps landlords with legislative compliance, finding new tenants, and dealing with late-night phone calls with maintenance issues.
Tesoriero said anyone who believes they have been discriminated against when finding a rental property can complain to the Human Rights Commission or Tenancy Services.