Ben Hill is a reporter for The New Zealand Herald

Tenancy Tribunal issues include unpaid rent and house wrecked by cats

Issues raised by disgruntled landlords and tenants to the Tenancy Tribunal included unpaid rent, and having to replace walls and rotten floors. Photo / iStock
Issues raised by disgruntled landlords and tenants to the Tenancy Tribunal included unpaid rent, and having to replace walls and rotten floors. Photo / iStock

Rotten showers, smashed walls and floors so badly damaged by cats that they had to be removed are just some of the issues raised by disgruntled landlords and tenants at the Tenancy Tribunal.

The Herald has been provided with the 20 latest orders from the tribunal, which detail issues between landlords and tenants raised under the Residential Tenancies Act.

The orders are from early July, as the tribunal withholds making orders public for 25 days to allow both parties to be aware of the decisions. The Herald has chosen not to name the parties involved.

Most orders relate to tenants owing outstanding rent, with the largest amount being $8316.98 owed to the landlord of a property in Onehunga, Auckland. The man's tenancy was terminated, and water rates of $1742.09 were also ordered to be paid.

At the end of a woman's tenancy in Featherston, the landlord discovered the carpet and floors were ruined by the tenant allowing a cat and kittens to live in the property without being house-trained.

All carpet in the house had to be replaced and the floors treated. The tribunal found the tenant intentionally allowed the cats to damage the carpet and floors, and ordered her to pay $7185.30 all up, which included $4234.73 in unpaid rent.

Two properties were ditched without giving the landlord the required 21 days notice, including a Greytown address which was rented by two tenants who owed $2218.57 in rent. They also left a damaged wall in the lounge which cost $505 to replace.

The tenants were ordered to pay $3222.01 which included the unpaid rent, cost of replacing the wall and cleaning costs.

In the second case, a man abandoned a Papakura property he was renting, while still owing $2100 in rent. The house was not left clean and tidy, there was rubbish inside and the property was damaged beyond fair wear and tear.

The tenant was ordered to pay $1890 in rent and water rates after his bond was deducted. He was also ordered to pay an additional $2213.75 to remove the rubbish inside the house and repair the damage, and a further $1030.40 to cover water charges.

It's not just tenants who find themselves on the wrong side of the tribunal's orders, with a property manager of a Torbay property being ordered to take immediate action after a tenant lived in an "illegal dwelling" for seven months without an oven, and with a rotting shower and constant electrical issues.

The property manager was required to arrange for an electrician to assess the house, as well as arranging for a qualified builder to assess the legal status of the kitchen and hot water cylinder, and for work to be completed on the rotten shower.

Debate over New Zealand's tenancy laws was reignited this month by a pair of opinion pieces published in the Herald.

Columnist Deborah Hill Cone complained about tenant treatment by a real estate agency, prompting a response from Auckland landlord Ron Goodwin, who argued rental legislation in New Zealand was biased in tenants' favour.

The Ministry of Justice said the Tenancy Tribunal dealt with 19,095 applications in the 2014/2015 year, down 16 per cent on the 22,818 cases in the the previous year.

Landlords claim they bring about 70 per cent of the cases against tenants over unpaid rent.

Ministry figures showed that 16,808 were applications from landlords and 2287 were tenant applications.

- NZ Herald

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