Deb is passionate about the property industry having worked in construction development, project management, property investment and property management; she has an unwavering commitment to revitalising the performance and reputation of the property management sector, advocating for positive change.

We had the opportunity to speak with Deb and delve into the details of her typical workday.

Q & A with Deb McKinnie of Harcourts Cooper & Co

IW: What would you do during a typical day?
DEB: The course of a day in property management can be influenced by so many factors, that it’s rare for any two days to be identical! As the GM of Property Management, my primary responsibility is to ensure that I offer comprehensive support, advice, and guidance to help the team navigate their roles in this highly demanding industry. This involves providing technical expertise on legislation, handling disputes and relationship challenges, designing and implementing processes for greater efficiency, as well as developing and managing our goals and commitment to providing world-class service.  As we have a 300+ strong sales team, a key part of my commitment to the Company’s overall success is in supplying crucial information to our sales division to enable successful transactions of the sale of rental properties.

IW: How did you get into this industry? 
DEB: From the early stages of my career, I had a strong sense of passion for the property industry. I started my journey in the Construction sector, working as a project and development manager on luxury apartment builds.  My enthusiasm for delving deeper into property led me to transition into a property investment firm looking to enhance its property management services for investors.

The world of property management is characterised by its fast-paced nature, where new challenges and opportunities arise – on a daily basis!  It’s in this high-pressure environment that I truly thrive. Property Management continually delivers the dynamic and exhilarating atmosphere that I crave!

IW: What do you enjoy most about your job?
DEB: I truly believe in the importance of the service we provide to our clients and the value of having a professional property manager – to support individuals on their journey to wealth creation. Achieving home ownership in New Zealand often requires a lifetime of dedication, and it ultimately becomes a legacy we pass on to future generations.

I have long believed that Property Management is an industry that is significantly undervalued and underrepresented.  So, I am deeply committed to elevating the standards, service, and reputation of those who tirelessly work in this field. While investing in property can yield long-term rewards, it is not without its risks. My primary goal is to minimise these risks for the clients we represent, ensuring their investments are safeguarded and their journey towards a comfortable retirement is as smooth and secure as possible.

William and Troy(1)

IW: What is the most challenging part of your job?
DEB: Property Management can indeed be a challenging environment, as we frequently find ourselves delivering news that may not be well-received by those we interact with. Managing and prioritising the mental well-being of my team is of utmost importance, especially as they navigate through a continuously evolving legislative landscape.

The frustrations experienced by our investors, stemming from economic, political, and financial fluctuations, can often impact the well-being of the team. Creating a supportive culture is crucial in order to address these challenges. It is essential to recognise that, as property managers, we are often caught in the firing line merely for being the messenger of news that may be unwelcome – so managing negativity is an ongoing part of the role.

Ensuring their mental health remains a priority, allows them to navigate the demands of the role with resilience and continue to provide outstanding service in the face of (and despite) adversity.

IW: What advice would you give others that are looking to move into this industry?
DEB: If you’re considering a move into Property Management, it’s important to carefully evaluate your skill set and mental toughness. Having a high level of resilience is paramount, yet often not enough emphasis is placed on this aspect during the recruitment process. Exceptional dispute resolution skills are essential to effectively manage stakeholders and meet their expectations.

It’s worth noting that the average career expectancy of a Property Manager in New Zealand is approximately 9 months, which speaks volumes about the challenges of the role. Given this reality, it is important to seek a manager who will prioritise your well-being, growth and development.  Set clear boundaries in terms of work-life balance to prevent burnout.  This will help you decide if you might be a good candidate for the demanding nature of Property Management and increase your chances of long-term success in the field.

Source – Inspirational Woman

From time to time, we receive complaints from neighbours about a tenant. This could be anything from anti-social behaviour, which is harassment or any other act or omission (whether intentional or not), if the act or omission reasonably causes alarm, distress, or nuisance that is more than minor. However, there are the more serious incidents, whereby a tenant may behave in a threatening way or even assault a neighbour.

We also receive complaints from neighbours who can be unreasonable and may have simply taken a dislike to a tenant.

In any case, property managers can only act against a tenant if the tenant is in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (RTA), and we require proof.

When an instance of anti-social behaviour occurs during a periodic tenancy, we are required to issue a notice of anti-social behaviour to the tenant. The notice for anti-social behaviour must clearly describe:
• the specific behaviour considered to be anti-social;
• who engaged in the anti-social behaviour (if this is known to the landlord); Neighbours in dispute
• the date, approximate time and location of the behaviour; and
• how many other notices (if any) have been issued in connection to anti-social behaviour at the same tenancy within the same 90-day period.

The notice must advise the tenant that they have the right to challenge the notice in the Tenancy Tribunal.

If the matter does result in a case at the Tenancy Tribunal, we are required to provide proof of the antisocial behaviour, we cannot simply rely on hearsay from neighbours.

Therefore, neighbours should always contact either noise control, the Police, or both and make a complaint. We can then request this information which assists us to ‘prove’ the antisocial behaviour occurred.

If the dispute between the neighbours and tenant isn’t because of the tenant breaching the RTA, then this would be a civil case and the parties would be encouraged to take the matter to the Disputes Tribunal.

This case study highlighted what happens when damage to a rental premises is deemed to be intentional, and how a landlord is compensated when depreciation and the estimated useful life of assets is considered.

The Facts:
The landlord sought costs for replacing the carpet at the end of the tenancy as the tenant had kept dogs in the house and the carpets had been soaked with dog urine. Although carpet cleaning had been attempted, given the extent of the urine contamination, the carpets needed replacing because the urine smell remained.

The Law:
The landlord must prove that damage to the premises occurred during the tenancy and is more than fair wear and tear. The tenant shall then have an opportunity to prove the damage was not careless or intentional damage. (Section 49B of the Residential Tenancies Act)

Tribunal Decision:
The Tribunal noted that there are several decisions from the District and High Courts where it has been confirmed that where there is more than 1 or 2 episodes of urination, the contamination is considered to cause extensive damage. If the tenant is aware of the ongoing issue, this takes the further damages into the intentional category.

In considering the depreciation and age of the carpet, the landlord should be returned to the position that they would have been in had the tenant not breached their obligations.

The carpets were around 4 to 5 years old at the end of the tenancy, this is around halfway through their economic life in a rental property. Therefore, the tenants were ordered to pay half of the replacement costs.

The Decision:
Carpet replacement cost of $1,147.60 awarded to the landlord. The 2019 High Court case, Guo v Korck, is the leading case in assessing whether damage is intentional. In this case, “damage is intentional where a person intends to cause damage and takes necessary steps to achieve that purpose. Damage is also intentional where a person does something, or allows a situation to continue, knowing that damage is a certainty.”

Landlords should keep the case of Guo v Korck in mind when assessing whether damage is accidental or intentional, and the estimated useful life of an asset should also be considered when assessing its current value.

MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) have outlined its process to help landlords and property managers understand why there may be delays in Tenancy Tribunal Hearings.

Did you know?
Cases are scheduled regarding priority rather than in chronological order, however the length of time since an application has been submitted is a factor that is considered when they schedule matters.

Not only this, but cases identified as being a lower level of complexity (i.e., requiring less than 90 minutes to deal with), are generally scheduled by a remote phone hearing rather than in-person in the courtroom. Remote hearings can be scheduled sooner than in-person hearings.

Important to note is that cases over the last two years have been more complex than previously with additional court time required.
• Priority one cases are applications involving anti-social behaviour, abandonment, and assault
• Priority two cases involve current tenancies particularly when there are rent arrears, which may be increasing
• Priority three cases are vacated tenancies where the debt is not increasing because the tenancy has

The number of days that a court will hold Tenancy Tribunal hearings per week depends on the volume of cases in that area and courtroom availability. Currently court time is at a premium across the country. Auckland is one of the highest volume areas in the country for Tenancy Tribunal matters. The impact of COVID-19 and recent weather events has meant that some matters have been adjourned or rescheduled. Where possible, some hearings have been moved to MBIE premises to ensure cases were able to proceed as scheduled.

Mediation Services
The Tenancy Tribunal attempts to mediate most applications that are filed. When the case co-ordination team assesses an application, they consider the likelihood of the matter being able to be successfully mediated. When they are able to get the parties together at mediation, they have been able to successfully resolve most of the matters set down for mediation. For the first nine months of the financial year ended 31 March 2023, the Tenancy Tribunal successfully mediated 86% of the cases where they were able to conduct mediation with both parties, and the settlement rate for matters filed by landlord’s is even better at 90% of those matters settled as of 31 March 2023.

Mediation provides an opportunity to resolve matters in a much more timely and less formal manner than attending a Tribunal hearing and there is always a chance that the Tribunal will send something back to mediation if they feel that the matter can be resolved in mediation.