Trade me “comfortable profiting from a human rights crisis” according to community organisations

March 24, 2022 12:00 pm

Today Renters United alongside 12 other organisations including the Child Poverty Action Group, the Manawatu Tenants Union, and New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations have sent an open letter to Trade Me demanding they take action to stop illegal rental property listings running rampant on their website.

The letter comes after months of documented cases of ramshackle sheds, dungeons, and windowless rooms being listed on the company’s website.

Saskia Yates, coordinator of the letter said “40,000 would-be tenants view rental listings on Trade Me each day. For this reason, Trade Me must consider their ethical responsibilities when it comes to the safety and well-being of would-be tenants”

“It’s not enough to hope that users of the site are honest about whether their listings are legal before publishing them. When Trade Me is earning up to $329 per listing they have an obligation to ensure they’re not assisting landlords to break the law.”

The letter calls for Trade Me to require those listing rental properties to declare if their property complies with the Residential Tenancies Act and the Healthy Homes Standards. The letter also calls for Trade Me to take proactive action and ban users who repeatedly breach standards or are reported to the ‘Community Watch’ team.

“Trade Me currently requires that sellers declare whether a car being sold on their website is safe, and we believe this should also be true of properties” said Yates.


Subject: Require Trade Me Rental Property Listings to Declare Compliance with the Residential Tenancies Act and Healthy Homes Standards. 

To Gavin Lloyd, property sales director at Trade Me.

We are writing to ask for Trade Me to require landlords and property managers to state in their listing whether a property complies with the Residential Tenancies Act and Healthy Homes Standards, and for Trade Me to ban landlords and property managers who repeatedly breach standards and/or are reported to the ‘Community Watch’ team. 

We, the undersigned, are disappointed by the lack of leadership taken by Trade Me in regards to rental property listings. Approximately 1 in 3 Kiwi households currently rent, and Trade Me acts as the primary venue for advertising rental properties in Aotearoa. Trade Me claims on their website that 40,000 would-be tenants view their rental listings each day. For this reason, Trade Me ought to support the visibility of the Healthy Homes Standards and encourage compliance with the Residential Tenancies Act on their platform. Trade Me must consider their ethical responsibilities when it comes to the safety and well-being of would-be tenants. Now is the time to act. 

The housing situation in Aotearoa has been referred to as a ‘human rights crisis’ by the United Nations, and the Human Rights Commision have argued that renters are suffering serious and avoidable hardship as a result of this crisis. As organisations we are exasperated by the constant stream of client communication and news articles highlighting sub-standard property listings hosted by your website. As an organisation that directly profits from rental property listings it is reasonable to expect Trade Me to put in place measures to ensure that these listings are legal. If Trade Me refuses to act, then it suggests that they are comfortable profiting from a human rights crisis while doing little to assist the people suffering the most. 

We are calling for:

  • Trade Me to require that landlords and property managers state in their listings whether a property complies with the Residential Tenancies Act and Healthy Homes Standards. 
  • Trade Me to ban advertising by landlords and property managers who repeatedly breach standards or are reported to the ‘Community Watch’ team.

Trade Me currently requires that sellers declare whether a car being sold on their website is safe, and we believe this should also be true of properties. If Trade Me can be expected to implement these sorts of checks to ensure the safety of drivers, it is entirely reasonable to expect they implement similar processes to ensure tenants have the same fair treatment. 

Your sincerely, 

Saskia Yates (Tāmaki Makaurau Branch Convener – Renters United)

On behalf of: Auckland City Centre Residents’ Group (CCRG). Child Poverty Action Group, Manawatu Tenants Union, New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS), Housing Advice Centre, New Zealand International Student Association (NZISA), New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA), Organise Aotearoa, Te Mana Ākonga – National Māori Tertiary Students’ Association, Tenants Protection Association Auckland (TPA), Tertiary Education Action Group Aotearoa (TEAGA), Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA)

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