A new website wants to give tenants the "inside scoop" on rental properties before they sign up to a lease - but market commentators are sceptical about whether it will work.
Flatreview.nz has launched, targeting tenants. It records property ratings against warmth, dampness, noise, location and the resolution of timely maintenance requests by the landlord.
"We are excited about creating more transparency within the rental market, allowing potential tenants to review previous tenants' experiences before signing up to live in a property," said founder Aaron Yee.
"With the increasing number of people turning to fixed-term tenancy agreements, platforms like this offer a sense of fairness and transparency for potential renters."
A similar site, Homepage.fyi has launched in London, Australia and New Zealand in April.
Head of Trade Me Property Nigel Jeffries said review sites were popular in other industries and could be a useful tool for tenants.
"The tricky part for these sites however will be maintaining accurate feedback and having appropriate means in place when disputes between landlords and tenants arise," he said.
"The vast majority of landlords are very conscientious and diligent so a review site is probably good for them, and possibly a worry for the minority of poor landlords.
In today's tight rental market, reviews may only matter so much, as our latest Trade Me Property data found that demand is strong and the national median weekly rent continues to rise year-on-year."
Andrew King, executive officer of the New Zealand Property Investors Federation, said the site seemed to list thousands of five-star properties so far.
"It doesn't look like they have an actual review of them. I wonder how they know that they are rental properties?
In principle we wouldn't be against such a website, but the information would be subjective and unverified so open to abuse," he said.
"If it is okay to review the property and the landlord themselves, then it seems reasonable that tenants could be rated as well, such as how they paid the rent, any damage and whether they caused problems with neighbours and other tenants."
Property developer David Whitburn said it was "a nice idea".
"It appears to be seeking to be the TripAdvisor for rental properties.
The issues it will face will be getting mass attraction to make it meaningful, getting moderators to screen feedback as a number of comments and ratings are not even and reflect short term emotions, rather than rational thought, then getting sponsorship and revenue to create a sustainable business model.
"My concerns include fairness amongst ratings in the review. I like how it encourages more transparency so professionally managed and well presented are looked after.
"It will create massive admin if it takes off, as rental properties get renovated and improved and are stuck with meaningless low ratings as they are changed.
On asking around the office, both tenants and landlords, we do not see this getting mass appeal at all."
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