A tenant has won a claim for damages after being abused by his landlord and breaching his "quiet enjoyment".
Yeo Chen was a tenant in a property owned by Ling Chao Liang in Avondale between February 14 to May 14, this year.
Chen made a claim for not only his refund of the bond, which was not opposed by Liang, but compensation for breach of quiet enjoyment.
The claim came about after the pair had an argument over the Chinese social media app WeChat.
The pair were fighting about how much bond should be returned to Chen after he was requested by Liang to pay it in Chinese currency, totaling RMB24,446.83.
The money was paid into Liang's personal account in China and was still held by him.
Liang's company, Grace Property Management, then paid the bond of $3600, equivalent to three weeks' rent, from company funds to the bond centre.
However, Chen was concerned that Grace Property Management had profited from the transfer.
Chen claimed Liang had told him what exchange rate to use, but then used a different exchange rate for the onwards exchange into New Zealand dollars.
Liang denied providing an exchange rate for the payment, and said he advised Chen to check the exchange rate used by the New Zealand banks, to adopt one of them and do the calculation himself.
Liang emphasised that he agreed to the arrangement to help Chen, who did not have a New Zealand bank account.
The tribunal said the arrangement "was certainly unusual and arguably inadvisable".
The pair soon became embroiled in argument over WeChat, which led to Chen filing a claim for breach of Quiet Enjoyment, under Section 38 of the Residential Tenancies Act.
The act provides that the landlord shall not cause or permit any interference with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of the tenant in the use of the premises by the tenant.
Contravention of the requirement in circumstances that amount to harassment of the tenant is an unlawful act and exemplary damages of up to $2000 could be awarded for harassment.
Chen told the tribunal that Liang used rude language in their discussion about the use of Chinese currency for payment and/or refund of the bond, and frustration on Liang's part about obtaining Chen's signature on the tenancy agreement (it was never signed by the tenant, or fully completed by the landlord) and this was combined with requests for Chen to leave the property.
Liang said he did not force Chen to leave, and it was noted that Chen stayed at the property for the remainder of the fixed term.
However, under the Act a tenant had a right to quiet enjoyment which meant "... the right not to have the quality of their tenancy significantly impaired by actions of the landlord and/or the landlord's agents", but that this must be balanced against the fact that landlord/tenant relationships tend to be between individuals and inevitably involve some interaction between them on a personal level.
The tribunal found that ordinarily its view of the quarrel on WeChat "as a clash of personalities not amounting to a breach of quiet enjoyment".
"In this case, however, while the language used was not physically intimidating or threatening, it was offensive and vulgar.
"It was also combined with inappropriate threats for Chen to leave the property."
The tribunal found there was a breach but that it did not amount to harassment because there was no evidence of "any ongoing episodes".
However, the "language used was shocking and could reasonably be expected to cause distress".
Chen was award compensation of $250 plus costs of $27.44, as well as his bond of $3600.