Ron Goodwin: Tenants from hell - an Auckland landlord's story

It doesn't surprise me that so many houses in Auckland are simply kept vacant. Photo / Michael Craig
It doesn't surprise me that so many houses in Auckland are simply kept vacant. Photo / Michael Craig

Ron Goodwin is an Auckland landlord and member of the Auckland Property Investors Association. This is a response to Deborah Hill Cone's column on July 18.

You think it's easy being a landlord? All we do is sit around and randomly put up rents when our Jags need servicing. Capitalist pigs, feeding from the trough of tenants' misery. Apparently we bunch people's undies too.

People who think being a landlord is simply a matter of buying a property, finding a tenant, squeezing the life out of the tenant, finding a new tenant and repeating the cycle, should take a harder look at the rental accommodation business in this city. Yes, it's a business. Not a charity. The reason we buy properties is to earn a living, not just to provide a service to those who can't or don't want to buy their own property. But we're subject to conditions no other business ever has to endure.

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The rental legislation in New Zealand is biased completely in the tenants' favour but even more so when a long-suffering landlord tries to get some justice out of the Tenancy Tribunal.

Take yesterday, for example. I had a telephone mediation finally scheduled after my application was filed with Tenancy Services on June 2 for a tenant who had been behind with his rent for over seven months, and was four weeks behind when I finally applied to the Tenancy Tribunal. After waiting for over six weeks, the scheduled mediator never showed up for work.

Another mediator who was meant to fill in forgot about it. And so it goes on and on while I have to pay the mortgage, the rates, the insurance and everything else while my tenant lives there with his kids, rent-free. If landlords could give 21 days' notice, the same as for tenants, he would have been long gone by now.

Last week, my hired rental inspector and I went to my worst tenants' house. The whole place was a trashed pigsty. Broken windows, the kitchen vinyl torn to bits beyond recognition, the lounge carpet covered in big black stains and torn, rubbish piled up around the place, torn and missing curtains, the deck gate smashed, the main steel driveway gate bent beyond repair.

These are tenants who wrecked an outside tap and then left it running, and who throw much of their rubbish out the windows, over the deck and out the doors into the yards and landscaped gardens.

They shout and scream and swear at each other all day, never stop smoking and drinking booze, and when I approach the house I am ordered to f*** off.

The worst bit is we did preliminary meth tests and the whole house is contaminated over the 0.50 limit; how bad I won't know until detailed laboratory testing is carried out. The previous long-term tenants were exemplary citizens with a baby. No way they ever did cigarettes, booze, marijuana or P. Purely by chance, less than an hour after we left, eight police raided the house.

Anyone want this lot living in their house?

It doesn't surprise me that so many houses in Auckland are simply kept vacant. If my above described tenants were let loose in a flash home, there would be more than $50,000 damage in the first two weeks and over $250,000 in three or four months.

And if the Government bothered to talk to those at the coal face instead of just relying on news media and its bureaucrats, it would soon have a totally different perspective on the Auckland housing market. It might even be persuaded to reform the tenancy laws less in the tenants' favour.

- NZ Herald

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