It was the cold that Robert Strickland noticed first.
Then it was the scratching. But it was no ordinary scratching. He would later discover it was the scratching of giant water rats that had invaded his Huntly rental home which he'd hoped to share with his seven children.
Then there was the itching from the flea infestation and the discovery that cockroaches had also decided to make it their new home.
It was when both he and his children started to get sick, about a week after staying there, that he began to complain to his property manager.
The firm managing the property, Harcourts Riverlands Real Estate, disputes Strickland's claims - and says there was no evidence of infestation at the start of the tenancy. The owner also paid for eradication in April.
Strickland tells the Herald he's barely spent more than a few weeks sleeping in the rental all year.
"If I start talking about my kids I'll cry," he says.
"I can't prove nothing I just know my health and my kids, me and my kids getting sick, I hardly ever get sick. We were coming down with temperatures.
"I can handle pretty much anything and would never jeopardise a house and a home for me and my children ... I don't want them to continue to suffer. That's what fires me up to go through with this."
One morning, his daughter told him how a "cat" had walked on her during the night. Knowing they didn't own a cat, Strickland initially thought she was joking. Until he stayed in the lounge one night and felt something, cat-like, walk on him. It was a large rat.
On moving into the brick three-bedroom home in December last year, he claims property manager Lisa Keil told him the carpets, curtains and oven were all being replaced.
He claims the repair work keeps being delayed.
As of July 3, the same curtain, carpets and vinyl was still in the house. Strickland said the oven was repaired but now whenever he turns it on it creates a power surge throughout the house and the lights briefly go out.
The curtains are so thin you can see through them and they hang down, haphazardly, at odd lengths. In his lounge, he's hung up a blanket to help try and keep it warm.
The carpet is so worn it's patchy in places, while a piece of plywood has patched up a gap in the kitchen floor.
Under the sink, shelves have expanded due to a leak in the kitchen pipes. He said he reported it to his agent.
In other kitchen cupboards, Strickland, 43, has found rat droppings and urine as well as a hole he claims was created by the rats. He said the house is so damp that it smells, and every morning he opens the windows to get some fresh air in.
He claimed after pleas to his agent to eradicate the roaches and rats, he ended up doing it himself.
As for the home's insulation - which, from July 1, will see landlords fined $4000 if there isn't any - there was none underneath and what is in the roof is so old, it has turned to a muddy consistency.
Due to a rental shortage in the area and wanting to have his kids stay with him, he had continued to periodically stay in the house which had improved slightly after the rodent eradication, albeit it still being cold.
Last month, frustrated, he lodged a complaint with the Tenancy Tribunal. However, on Thursday he withdrew the application after talking with Keil and speaking to the Herald.
Harcourts disputes claims
Dallas Hodge, managing director of Harcourts Riverlands Real Estate, disputed Strickland's claims and said there was no evidence of a rodent infestation at the start of the tenancy, but had an invoice for their eradication from April, paid for by the owner.
The tradesman also repaired holes at that time.
As for the oven, Hodge said it was reported to them and fixed in May.
"This was duly attended to by the electrician and for which we have a compliance certificate. When we receive any maintenance requests for electrical, plumbing or health and safety issues they are acted on quickly by our team."
Hodge said they then received a maintenance request on June 28 but there was no mention of power surging.
"We are attending to the items on the maintenance request."
Despite booking and paying for the insulation "well before July 1", it was set down for installation on July 26.
They were made aware of the tribunal application on Wednesday, Hodge said.
Consumer NZ Head of Research Jessica Wilson said rental companies and their agents had a legal responsibility to ensure the house they were letting out was in a "reasonable state of repair".
Wilson said properties should be fit to live in when tenants moved in, and if a tenant was promised certain repairs would be done, this should happen.