Negligent property manager?

Question from Melissa updated on 22nd August 2016:

We hired a professional rental management company for our property while overseas for 15 months. We decided to rent partly furnished and decided to sell our property on our return to NZ. The tenant left two weeks after being offered the property and advised of sale. The agency returned the full bond on final inspection, but we have since found that our furniture was damaged/ vandalised and there was slight property damage that was not fixed properly.

We've expressed our concerns to the agent. But we have been told that we would have no leg to stand on if went to the Disputes Tribunal as the house was clean and tidy on their inspection - just the usual wear. However, we've asked for full detail reports and photos and still have not received them and we are being ignored via all correspondence.

Is there a legal right to dispute the agency was negligent in their management of our personal property. The agent keeps siding with the tenant (an ex-agent herself) - although we hired them and payed their fees to care for our belongings? 

Our expert Bernard Parker responded:

Your contract with your property manager should specify the authority that you gave to the manager. It will normally state that the property manager can enter tenancy agreements on your behalf and end tenancies as required.

If the property manager considers that it would be fruitless pursuing a claim against a tenant, and that the damage is “reasonable wear and tear”, it is possible that the manager is acting in your best interest. The property manager is your agent and should be acting in your interests at all times.

If you think the property manager has not acted in your interest and is not communicating with you, you have recourse to the Disputes Tribunal. I suggest that you mention to the property manager your dissatisfaction and the possibility of a Disputes Tribunal claim. That should get some communication going between you.

In all likelihood the wear and tear, if reasonable, will not be claimable from a tenant. However, a fuller discussion between you and the property manager should help clarify what damage there is and whether you can expect to claim from the tenant.

Bernard is principal of Quinovic – Kapiti-Mana. Quinovic's outstanding people and systems provide the most professional, effective and reliable residential property management service in the NZ market for over 30 years.

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