A group of flatmates in the finals of a worst student flat competition are taking their landlord to the tenancy tribunal over the lease of the property made famous by cult Dunedin film Scarfies.

The property, 49 Brown St, which featured in the 1999 film about flatmates who stumble upon the abandoned residence to find free electricity powering a hidden marijuana growing operation, has been issued with a building infringement notice by the Dunedin City Council.

Residents Brittney McKinnel and Natalie Pelham said the lease on the seven-bedroom property costs them $770 a week in rent.

The pair and fellow residents Jake Hopkins and Rachael Arnold said they wanted to share their flatting experience as a cautionary tale for other students to know their tenancy rights.


Seven people moved into the property at the beginning of the academic year.

However, after signing a 12-month lease last year, they had discovered several issues with the building when they moved in.

The flatmates claim the building is structurally unsound, pointing to a rotted post which holds up a section of a second-storey bedroom, and a section of collapsed stairs out the back.

The owner of the property could not be contacted yesterday.

Two flatmates had moved out in February. One had stopped paying her share of the rent, and the remaining tenants were left with a mounting debt bill, Miss McKinnel said.

Only one room in the house had a light bulb, while an upstairs room "had something living in the roof", possibly rats, a possum, or a wild cat, Miss McKinnel said.

The group claimed the relationship with their landlord was a "pretty good one", but because they owed about $3500 between them from unpaid rent, for which they were liable as co-lessees after their initial flatmates had left the house, no repairs had been done.

The flatmates accepted it was their decision to move into the property, but wished they had signed a lease which did not leave them "jointly liable" for rent and that they had brought in a mediator to handle their tenancy issues earlier.

The two parties are scheduled to meet at a tenancy tribunal hearing in about two weeks, Miss McKinnel said.

DCC chief building control officer Neil Mcleod confirmed the building was issued with a "notice to fix" by a compliance officer on August 12.

The owner of the property has until November 25 to make the required repairs, Mr Mcleod said.

He advised students and tenants to know their rights, but also to take the responsibility of knowing the condition of a property when they decided to sign a lease.