A house with leaking and damaged gutters, rotting window frames, illegal stairs, a sagging and mouldy ceiling, rotting weatherboards, a rotten toilet floor and exposed electrical board have earned a stiff penalty for the landlords who rented it out.
A couple who own the dilapidated Henderson rental property were ordered to pay their tenant just over $13,000 after failing to take action on the extremely run-down house where she lives with a 22-month-old baby.
Landlords Ross and Sally Craigie must pay tenant Bjana Thompson $13,020.44 for breaching the Residential Tenancies Act by failing to maintain their property to a reasonable standard of repair.
Thompson's child suffered respiratory infections since he was a baby and she told of many visits to the doctor and hospital.
The Craigies are dance specialists and Ross Craigie was reluctant to speak about the case today: "You can read what's been said. I've got no comment."
Their tenant complained to the Tenancy Tribunal about 22 issues.
Some of those were cited in the tribunal's order as "leaking and damaged gutters, rotting window frames, sagging and mouldy ceiling in the front entrance, rotting weatherboards, no range hood in kitchen, rotten toilet floor and wall, exposed electrical board, large draughty gaps in the floorboard, windows do not properly sloes - there are gaps - blocked drains causing flooding and pooling due to leaks, back stairs replaced by illegally installed and with no anchoring to the ground, leaks around light fittings, insulation not up to standard, unsafe rust repairs to oven."
The tribunal said Ross Craigie said he had only done one inspection of the property in seven years and "appeared to have a hands-off approach".
Ventilation was needed in the bathroom and kitchen, the tribunal said, noting how Habitat for Humanity had completed a healthy homes report which noted several items in need of repair.
Thompson had told the landlord about issues with the damp and cold, chimney, window frames and windows, ventilation, lack of heating and rotten weatherboards. She sought $40,000, about a third of what she paid in rent over the term of her tenancy. She was frustrated about the landlords' inability to act.
The Craigies accepted they had been remiss in their responsibilities to maintain the house. They did not accept the extent of Thompson's claims but said items like weatherboards, windows and guttering should have been maintained.
The tenant's ex-partner had put a wooden deck over slippery and uneven concrete where Thompson fell when she was pregnant.
Thompson had also installed a front door between the outside and an enclosed porch which was leaking. She laid her own carpet and had bought heaters for the bathroom and living areas because there is no other source of heating.
She put silicon on gaps in the windows and closed off the fireplace. She had gone beyond what should be expected of a tenant to keep her home habitable, warm and healthy, the tribunal said.
"There is a strong public interest in having warm healthy homes, especially if children are living in those homes," the tribunal said.
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