Tenants accuse Gilmore of unfair tactics in house fight

By Kathryn Powley

Tenants label MP a 'tosser' over his tactics to get them to shift out

Aaron Gilmore asked if they knew what he did for a living.
Aaron Gilmore asked if they knew what he did for a living.

Beleaguered National list MP Aaron Gilmore faces more heat with claims he tried to use his status to force a couple out of their rented home unfairly.

Otago University politics lecturer Dr Bryce Edwards says there is no doubt Mr Gilmore won't be on the list next year.

"There might be pressure over the next week or so for him to actually resign from parliament. Now of course John Key or anyone else in the National Party or parliament can't force him out."

Mr Edwards says there will be debate in the next week over whether he should remain as an MP or not stand for re-election next year.

"This has been a major embarrassment for his Party and it's not the first embarrassment, there's been a number of incidents in previous years, or when he was last a list MP, that has brought into question his reputation, his credibility."

In shades of his now-infamous rant at a Hanmer Springs hotel, he is alleged to have asked tenants Jane and Craig Ovenden: "Do you guys know what I do for a living?"

The Ovendens have lived in the Temple Lane home, in the small South Island ski town of Ohau, for about a year but are moving out. They've had enough of Gilmore, who is involved in the trust that owns it. They say he:

• Threatened to tell other landlords they were poor tenants, despite saying in a letter they were good people.

• Recorded their conversations without telling them.

• Emailed their lawyer, telling him to "stop making a fool of himself".

The Herald on Sunday has emails which appear to show Gilmore and long-term partner Jenny Dickinson disagreeing over which of them has rights to manage the property. The pair have two children.

Neither could be contacted last night.

The fresh revelations come days after the list MP was accused of threatening to use his influence to have a waiter sacked after his group was refused wine at the Heritage Hotel. According to Christchurch lawyer Andrew Riches, the MP asked the waiter: "Don't you know who I am?" and gave him his business card.

Yesterday, Gilmore's tenants said that after sending them several "bullying" emails, he inspected their home on April 4. At the house, Gilmore quizzed them on his occupation.

Ovenden said: "He came in, had a look around and said, 'Do you guys know what I do for a living?

Do you guys know what I do?' He didn't really give us the opportunity to say yes or no, he just said, 'I'm an MP'.

"He's an MP, so what? Whether I was supposed to be intimidated by that I don't know. It didn't work."

The couple, who have three children - the youngest at boarding school - have found another place.

"We're not bad tenants," said Ovenden, "He seems to be happy to use bully tactics ... He's a tosser."

The Ovendens rented the property from Dickinson but in November, Gilmore wrote telling them he appreciated they were "good tenants" but they had to be out by January 7 because the trust wanted the property for the summer.

Ovenden told the Herald on Sunday: "I needed him to give the proper 90 days' notice at that stage, but he didn't."

An email from Dickinson's lawyer to Ovenden's, Anthony Whitcombe, said Gilmore did not represent the trust, his communication could be ignored and the Ovendens could stay.

But on March 28, Gilmore wrote giving the Ovendens 90 days' notice. He said he would inspect the property in early April. He also instructed them not to correspond any further with Dickinson who, he said, had resigned as a trustee and beneficiary of his trust and had no remaining responsibility for the property.

However, property records show she still owns a share of the house.

In an email dated April 2, Gilmore told Whitcombe he was considering ensuring "all property owners in the Lake Ohau village are provided a full reference of the type of tenant that Craig is in lying and not following tenancy agreements".

On April 5, he wrote to Whitcombe again, saying the Ovendens had agreed to move out and he had a recording of the discussion.

He then told him: "Please refrain from continuing to making [sic] yourself look foolish."

- Herald on Sunday

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