Desperate for a home, Kevin Middleton moved into an upstairs room of a Whangarei property but had no inkling his stay would last barely 24 hours.

During that time, his Kensington flat was invaded by a club-wielding man, the flat below was smashed up and his landlord couldn't come to help as he'd been trespassed off the property by a previous tenant.

As well, the property was littered with trash and he says it was also rat-infested.

A qualified printer, Middleton moved from Kerikeri to Whangarei last week for treatment to an injured wrist and to seek a job, but a lack of suitable accommodation posed his biggest challenge.


He approached the Ministry of Social Development, Salvation Army, and other organisations for help in finding temporary shelter but none was able to help, except by way of accommodation supplement from MSD.

On Friday, he found an empty bedroom in a Weaver St flat ready to move into.

Work and Income paid the $600 bond and Middleton moved in after signing a tenancy agreement. The house is owned by Whangarei businessman Vladislav Gorbatchev.

What followed forced Middleton to move out the next day.

Early Saturday, he heard a loud bang from downstairs but could not go down as the lights did not work. When day broke, he checked to see smashed windows and broken doors of the downstairs flat.

After he rang the landlord, Middleton said a young man barged into his insecure room with a golf club and asked where the landlord was.

"I said he was on his way. He then went downstairs and started smashing furniture and basically trashed the place. I called police and they came. The landlord came too but he stood by the gate as he had a trespass order not to enter the property."

Middleton said he told Gorbatchev he was moving out as the house was unsafe, and for the landlord to return his bond. But he was asked to give two weeks' notice to vacate.


"I paid over $600 bond and expected it to be a safe place where I could live, eat, and sleep but if a safe environment is not provided then it's a deceit. The house is rat-infested and the property has been run down with absolutely nothing done by the landlord to make it a safe, secure and healthy place to live in.

The property on Weaver Rd in Kensington where Kevin Middleton spent just one night before moving out due to safety and hygienic reasons. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
The property on Weaver Rd in Kensington where Kevin Middleton spent just one night before moving out due to safety and hygienic reasons. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

"It is disgusting to have a dwelling in that condition with car wrecks, caravan wrecks and blocked drains in the city," he said.

He has reported the building's sanitary condition to the Whangarei District Council.

Council spokeswoman Ann Midson said the building did not qualify as insanitary during a previous inspection, but it was dirty.

Gorbatchev admitted only two of the three bedrooms in the house have locks.

He said he removed junk such as couches two months ago and claimed the last tenant left unwanted goods outside.

The businessman said a previous tenant took a trespass order against him when he was ordered to move out after he refused to pay for damage to the property.

Middleton's bond would only be refunded if he gave two weeks' written notice to vacate as per the agreement, he said, otherwise the man could lodge a dispute with the Tenancy Tribunal. Middleton said he would take the matter further.

In September, the Tenancy Tribunal ruled that 8 Weaver St tenant Lavinia Gray had to pay Gorbatchev $1394.20 in rent arrears.

The ruling noted that Gorbatchev was also claiming compensation for damage to doors and walls, and a broken window.

However, as Gorbatchev did not have a written quote to support the repair costs claimed, the adjudicator called for another hearing.

Middleton's problems come as the Northern Advocate revealed a rental crisis in Northland.

The mean rental price in Northland increased $20 in September to $390. That's a 12.9 per cent increase since September last year. The national mean price of $450 a week had been steady for the 10th month in a row.In

Northland, population growth - up 4000 in the past year - and the Auckland housing market have contributed to a shortage of rental properties and a corresponding increase in rents.