A tenant who had to clean up the mess of nesting rats in her rental property and couldn't use her unsafe, rotten deck, has been awarded $12,000.
Janine Reichert had moved into a beachfront Karaka Bay property in January 2018.
But, as the Tenancy Tribunal heard, she noticed rats were coming into her house and nesting, with mice and ants invading other areas of the rental.
Despite laying bait out for the pests, rats continued to sneak into the property.
"The tenant gave evidence that she had to clean up rat droppings and the loft smelt
of rat urine and faeces," the decision said.
"In fact, in Ms Baxter's appraisal of June 2019 it notes that there is evidence of a past rat problem and that the loft smelt."
Landlord Tim Eustice told his builder to cut back trees and remove vegetation around the property.
"I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that if the trees had been cut back
earlier by the landlord, then the rats would not have been able to get into the
property," Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator Toni Prowse said.
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Reichert and her three children had their own deck to enjoy uninterrupted sea views the rental boasted.
They also used parts of the wooden deck to get in and out of their house.
But they couldn't use most of it, Reichert said - some parts were so rotten it couldn't support weight, and she feared for her children's safety using the deck.
The hand railing was non-compliant and would not meet the Building Code.
"The tenant says she could not use some of the worse parts of deck for fear of
injury," the decision said.
The landlord agreed that the issues with the deck was raised "very early" in the tenancy, but that sourcing materials to replace the deck and the cost and in delivering materials to the Bay caused delays.
Reichert contacted Auckland Council, concerned about the state of the deck.
Gerry Cruikshank, senior specialist in the Building Targeted Initiatives Team, said there was a "significant amount of rotten timber unable to support the weight of a person and likely to fail".
"I have no doubt at all that the structure meets the definition of a dangerous building as in the ordinary course of events it is likely to cause injury or death to the persons using it."
He recommended Auckland Council issue a notice to the landlord to fix the deck and issue a dangerous building notice.
It was lucky no one was injured at the property, Prowse said.
Reichert said there were ongoing issues with leaks throughout the throughout the roof of the house, with watering entering the walls and issues with guttering.
The landlord was ordered to pay Reichert $12,050 for his lack of action on the rat infestation and failing to maintain the deck or repair the leaks.