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  • Writer's pictureHolly Bennett

Property Managers and lobbying: what’s the deal?

One of the three core principles of the Property Management Conference (the PMC) is one of the things that those who work in government relations try to do daily: influence.

For the PMC, the principle of influence says that your ability to influence is the key to success, which includes how to effectively communicate with stakeholders, negotiate contracts, and inspire teams to achieve outstanding results.

A screenshot of the Property Management Conference website. Photo:

Lobbying - or government relations - is much the same: your ability to influence is the key to success, which includes who you speak to, what you say and how you say it, so let's look at these three elements!

Who you speak to

At Engage, we consider there to be three priority groups all organisations should consider engaging with as part of successful advocacy. They are the Legislature, the Executive, and Officials.

You might be thinking “what about the Judiciary? In fourth form Enterprise Studies I was taught that they are the third branch of government?” Yes, you’re absolutely correct, however I would argue that if you can effectively lobby the judiciary, then our democracy has bigger problems.

So instead Engage breaks the Executive Branch of Government (which includes the Executive and Public Servants) into its own two distinct arms: Executive and Officials.

Every business operates at the behest of legislation in some way – what we can do, what we cannot, how we run our workforce, how we protect it – so it makes sense that a business be cognisant of political dealings and policy direction. You can read about these three groups in more detail here.

What you say

Knowing what to say is just as important as knowing who to speak to. A truly effective lobbyist will put the needs of who they are speaking to first. That is because everyone has different levels of understanding about any given topic, different pressures and different goals.

Keeping your points succinct and specific can help ensure you’re understood and remembered. Be sure to give a brief overview of who you are, what your organisation does, and what your goals are. When in doubt, make sure you’ve covered the basics: who, what, when, where, why and how.

If you want to go one step further, it can be helpful to put yourself in the shoes of who you are speaking to and think about what their priorities might be, and what role you might play in helping them achieve their goals.

Alternatively, if you know that you have a fundamentally different perspective on a certain matter (this is commonplace in politics so don’t be afraid of differences in opinion), instead focus on finding the common ground. You may be surprised that you are able to find places where you can work together.

How you say it

Finally, effective communication is not just what you say, it’s important to reflect on how you say it. It can be extremely tempting to approach decision makers with assertive arguments for your cause (sometimes it is absolutely necessary!) however it’s just as helpful to reflect on their priorities too, and take a collaborative approach.

Do a little bit of research and find out which agencies are working on programmes related to your industry, different party policies, and which MPs hold portfolios that affect your organisation. This will give you a better standing to lobby for your cause because you’ll be able to draw connections between what you do and how the government can affect it.

Where possible, aim to keep your communication consistent by using a lead spokesperson and create a handover document (we call it a leave behind) that you can hand over freely, that outlines your main points. The easier you make it for those who you are engaging with, the better your chances are at getting change. You can find out more about this here.

What about the Residential Property Managers Bill?

Shortly after the General Election I went on the Alternative Property Management Show for a General Election Special with David and Harrison. We talked about how the election results might affect both landlords and tenants, as well as what could happen to the Residential Property Managers Bill.

As a reminder, the Bill sets out to establish a new regulatory regime for the licensing of residential property managers and management organisations. Almost one third of New Zealand households live in rental accommodation and residential property managers are responsible for managing around 42% of the residential tenancy market. The Bill aims to improve the provision of residential property management services, including that residential property managers meet professional standards of practice.

To better understand where something might go, it's first important to know from where it has come. As part of my prep for the General Election Special I went back through and listened to the first reading speeches when the Bill was introduced in August.

Only one party voted in opposition to the Bill - the ACT Party - with the remaining parties (as well as independent MPs) casting votes in favour of it (108 Ayes to 10 Noes). The main opposition from ACT was that the Bill will make it more costly for people struggling already to afford affordable homes, while National said they too did worry about the extra cost the Bill could impose, they were in support of improving lives for renters in New Zealand.

Given the industry appears to be relatively united on the impetus of the Bill - that responsible property managers are something we should all want - the kōrero shared on the podcast was about whether the actual form of the Bill will remain the same: it is reasonable to consider that that incoming government (which now includes the sole party that opposed it at first reading) could review the shape and form of the Bill.

In addition, there are two other factors to consider: the new Minister responsible may decide the Bill is not a priority, or the new Parliament may not vote to reinstate it to the Order Paper.

The best thing you can do, if you believe in the Bill (even if it needs improvement) is to make your support known: know your own personal view and know your organisation’s view (they can differ and that is okay - but ultimately the organisation will make a public position known and, much like the rule of Collective Cabinet Responsibility - you will likely be required to tow the line).

Sometimes in advocacy, no matter how well we position a kaupapa or how clear we make our case, your guess is as good as mine!

Holly Bennett (Te Arawa, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao) is the Founder and an Approved Facilitator of Engage.


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