A New Zealand property manager has lifted the lid on the horrors of some of New Zealand's most disgusting homes, including a house that hadn't been cleaned in 16 years.
The property manager, who has worked throughout the upper North Island, told the Herald that one home in a rundown Bay of Plenty town was so vile that the only people who would touch it was a crime-scene cleaning team.
Images obtained by the Herald show inch-thick grime, dirt, faecal matter and other indescribable substances caked onto the toilet with permanent brown water in the bowl.
Another image shows the shower walls covered in dirt as well as rubbish dumped on the floor.
The property manager, who wished to remain anonymous, described the moment she walked into the home, saying she nearly vomited from the smell and witnessed the tenant performing sexual acts as she walked inside.
"I opened the door and the smell engulfed me. I could smell the stench before I took a step inside.
"When I walked in the tenant was sitting naked on his chair with a blanket over himself watching porn, not even wanting to turn anything off. No shame whatsoever. He just sat there as I walked through the door; he just looked at me and carried on what he was doing.
"The smell got worse as I proceeded to the bathroom. It was disgusting. It was hard to distinguish what particular aspect was causing the vile smell because there were so many nasty and dirty smells going on.
"That was the worst property I've ever seen. The walls that were once white were now yellow. Once you see it and smell it … I couldn't stick around in there for more than two minutes. I just had to get out and go."
"The man had lived there for 16 years and never cleaned a day he was there.
"It seriously smelt like death in there and the only cleaner that will touch the place is the crime-scene cleaning team."
The property manager explained that she was warned about the state of rental properties in this specific low socio-economic Bay of Plenty town, however, she couldn't prepare for what she would walk in to.
"It's one of those things that if this was a rental in any other part of New Zealand it would have been absolutely disgusting and despicable and you wouldn't put up with it in your rental property, but in this neighbourhood anything goes."
Unfortunately, her horror home inspection experience wasn't isolated to the single visit.
The property manager says there are a number of homes in the gang-riddled town that are not fit to live in for animals, let alone humans.
She described the state of a number of homes in the town as "some of the worst you're ever likely to see in New Zealand".
"You'd go in for inspections and there would be holes in walls and doors, places would have a permanent stench and homes would be riddled with fleas.
"Many tenants had dogs and would let them p*** and s*** on the floor. They'd just let their kids do whatever they want and the hygiene levels were non-existent.
"The ceilings and walls use to be white, now they're yellow. A lot of the tenants do not clean, let alone themselves. Most people wouldn't go a day or two without washing themselves but these tenants would go years without washing.
"They have dishes they don't wash ... They could be living in these flats for years and years and not a single surface in that house would have been cleaned."
While the property manager has come across a number of disgusting tenants, she admits that many landlords in the area are not much better themselves.
Speaking to the Herald the property manager said that many of the homes and flats were purchased for $20,000-30,000 and revealed that a lot of the owners know what they're getting themselves in to.
She explained that a lot of the landlords were either hesitant or refused to pour money into fixing, cleaning or investing in properties knowing that they'd struggle to find clean and tidy tenants.
"They're getting buggerall rent. You get what you pay for. If you're not willing to invest in a good area of town they've got to accept they're going to get shitty tenants.
"Some landlords aren't willing to invest time, effort and care into their homes and in turn they're attracting a certain type of tenant who isn't house proud."
"In a normal situation, we would absolutely issue a 14-day breach notice which outlines what the tenants have breached in the agreement and what it is you want them to remedy.
"In any normal circumstance if anyone kept their house in a disgusting state it would be a no-brainer. In my opinion, they'd be given notice and be told to get out.
"It sounds sad but in this area you could issue breach notices and terminate their tenancy but who else are we going to get in?
"When I started in this particular town I followed the book to the letter – I thought 'how could anyone live like this' – but I soon realised that if you kicked them out the next tenant would be similar.
"What is the calibre of person I'm going to attract here? Unfortunately, a lot of the time they're going to be similar characters and that's why homeowners are hesitant to pump money into their homes ... It is a case of matching the tenant with the house."
Despite having previously managed a number of homes filled with grime, dirt and filth, the property manager has sympathy for both the tenants and homeowners.
Many of the tenants have either come from poor backgrounds, face financial struggles, have been released from jail, are former addicts or have mental health issues.
She says while under normal circumstances the residents would face eviction for poor maintenance, she understands that these people need a roof over their head and these rental homes or flats are the only ones they can afford to stay in.
"Many Kiwis are unaware that people live like this and there isn't a lot you can do about it.
"You do have to have homes for these people. They have to live somewhere.
"You can be disgusted by it – and I was when I first started managing these properties – but you work out pretty quickly that they have to have a roof over their head and these landlords know what they're getting into.
"They're buying $20,000-30,000 houses. You have to open yourself up to the fact you aren't going to attract the best people. It's a reality.
"This is different to disgusting students; this way of living is deeply ingrained in these people's lives – the lack of hygiene and personal pride.
"While the majority of regions around New Zealand wouldn't have these issues, I bet there are a handful of property managers around the country dealing with the same issues I did in low socio-economic regions.
"Luckily the majority of Kiwis aren't exposed to this way of life but unfortunately, people live like this and it's just a harsh reality."