A Hamilton landlord who appeared in nine Tenancy Tribunal cases over 18 months plans to appeal after losing every case and being ordered to pay more than $15,000 to tenants who won bond, rent and other refunds.
Angela Robb said the stress of the cases with her two lots of tenants had been so great, it had caused a brain aneurysm, leaving her unable to work and on a sickness benefit.
She and son, Sam, are now too scared to offer a room at their Chartwell home and have enlisted the help of a rental agency to manage their family trust-owned home at Silverdale.
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The Tenancy Tribunal heard eight cases brought by individual tenants from the two homes complaining about her behaviour, treatment and money and one appeal application from her - which she also lost. A tenant claimed she was aggressive and one dispute involved police being called by the tenants.
But Robb told the Herald on Sunday the nine cases made it sound worse than it was and unfairly painted her as a bad person.
She said the disputes should have only involved two tribunal cases because there were two groups of people involved.
However the tribunal said different amounts were charged to different tenants, so it had no option but to hear each case individually.
The first case was heard in July last year and involved tenants Kai Zhu, Zheyue Hu, Chen Lin and Cong Ding who moved into a room in her Comries Rd, Chartwell, home.
Five others moved into their Carlson Crescent, Silverdale, home around October last year.
Robb claimed she had been ripped off by one of the residents - XueHui Zhou, who she knew as Qian Shi Zhou, and had known for a year through church before she moved in.
But the tribunal heard from Zhou and others, and the tribunal ruled in their favour in every case.
Robb claimed she didn't owe the tenants any bond because she never asked for it. The money she asked for was to cover the rent, many weeks - in one case 14 weeks - in advance.
But the tribunal made it clear it was illegal for landlords to ask for more than a fortnight's rent in advance. The tenants sought repayments including for bond and money for being forced to leave and find alternative accommodation.
Robb said the Silverdale house had five bedrooms but the basement was used for storage and an "exercise room". No one was living down there.
But the tribunal found that at the Silverdale house, two tenants had in fact lived in the basement where they shared a room.
She said she repeatedly tried to get the tenants to sign a contract to stay in her house, but they refused.
But tenants told the tribunal how they had entered into an "oral tenancy agreement" only with Robb. One tenant requested that agreement be recorded in writing but Robb had said if that was required "she would have to charge him a greater rent", the tribunal found.
The tenants also told the tribunal how due to Robb's "aggressive behaviour and unpredictability" they had "taken refuge in their individual rooms after which Ms Robb banged on their doors making threats of eviction".
Robb told the Herald on Sunday the effects of her brain injury meant that at times she was unable to control her temper if she got really stressed.
The tribunal ordered Robb to repay her tenants $15,121 for many breaches of the law including rent overpayment, bond refund, temporary accommodation amounts, reimbursement of the tribunal filing fees and electricity overpayment.
It found that despite her claims that she was running a boarding house and was not a landlord, that she was indeed a landlord and it had jurisdiction in the matters. Even if she stayed occasionally at one Hamilton place to do the lawns, it was not her principal place of residence and was not a boarding house.
When asked afterwards if she could be the country's worst landlord given the nine failed cases in 18 months, she became agitated and said she wasn't a landlord, let alone a bad one, and the people in her house were her flatmates.
She claimed the tenants, who all knew each other, manipulated her and the situation so they could bring a case to the tribunal.
Robb said that her husband Marty had died from blood cancer five years ago but none of the family had been able to afford a proper burial, so his ashes were in his son's garage which was compounding her stress.
"I wanted to rent a house and quickly get some money so I can bury my husband."
Robb said the tribunal did nothing to protect homeowners. She tried to bring three separate prosecutions against different tenants prior to the slew of hearings but was told by the tribunal they couldn't help her.
However, she was angered to find out tenants could easily bring a prosecution against a homeowner.
But Andrew King, NZ Property Investors Federation executive officer, said property owners and landlords did have rights, enforced by the tribunal and by law. The tribunal certainly did protect property owners, he said.
He estimated around 75-80 per cent of tribunal hearings throughout New Zealand were brought by landlords against tenants for unpaid rent. And 90 per cent of all applications to the tribunal were brought by landlords.
Distraught over the proceedings, Robb, a Kiwi citizen who has lived here for 12 years, and her son, were now contemplating leaving New Zealand, to possibly make a new home in Australia.