A Hamilton mum forced to take the only rental property she was offered says it is heartbreaking that rent keeps going up even though her house is falling apart.

But her property manager says the tenant was aware of the property's age and condition when she viewed it and he is doing everything he can to address the numerous complaints she has.

Jemma Cooper, 35, moved into the Fairfield rental property in early February and took it in desperation because it was the first one she was offered after looking at about five. It was also within her budget at $400pw.

She had just moved to Hamilton and her teenage son was due to start school and she knew finding a place would be harder with two cats.


But once the single mum moved in she realised the bungalow, estimated to be built in the 1940s, was in worse condition than she had initially thought, and claims no maintenance had been done on the house in about five years.

"I can see through the floor in my kitchen. The underneath of the house was filled with rubbish. The gutters are all blocked. There is mould. Fleas. Cat spray smells.
Leaking and broken windows ... the list goes on," she said.

She said one of the exterior doors was not secure and even her cats could open it.

When she first raised concerns with Home Let Property Management about the rental she claims she was ignored and said it wasn't until she made threats about going to the Tenancy Tribunal that slowly things have started getting fixed.

Jemma Coooper says she can see the borer coming through the paint after it was painted over five years ago. Photo / Alan Gibson.
Jemma Coooper says she can see the borer coming through the paint after it was painted over five years ago. Photo / Alan Gibson.

"Now that they've found that borer issue they are obviously getting on top of it because they care about their investment, I suppose. But it's just unfortunate that all those smaller problems like having a securer house didn't matter to them. They didn't actually care about me, all they care about is the house only, in an emergency state of disrepair."

But Home Let general manager Steve Rennie said the company had not ignored her concerns and responded to the emails on the same day or the following day and had actioned work as appropriate. They had also offered her the chance to break her fixed-term contract.

There had been 35 emails between Home Let and the tenant in the past 34 days, with the tenant sending them up to three emails a day.

"At least six different tradespeople have attended the property during this tenancy to attend to maintenance that was either noted prior to the start of the tenancy, or has been brought us by the tenant."


Curtains have either been washed or replaced and the toilet seat has been replaced. A builder was also sent out to replace the soffit but he noticed borer so stopped.

The old bungalow has rotten timber, mould and borer. Photo / Alan Gibson.
The old bungalow has rotten timber, mould and borer. Photo / Alan Gibson.

Rennie said Cooper had requested a 50 per cent drop in rent but he believed it was priced appropriately and she had viewed the house before she moved in so was aware of its age and condition.

The rent had only increased by $10 a week since the previous tenant moved out earlier in the year and he said this was "very modest" due to the sharp rise in rents.

Rennie said they had only discovered the borer in the property last week and a pest control company was contacted immediately.

The builder also told them it was not a health and safety issue but they were meeting with another builder and a pest control professional at the property on Wednesday.

He said the tenant who had lived there for the 12 months prior to Cooper moving in had no issues with the house or the way maintenance was addressed.

Leaking gutter at the Hamilton property. Photo / Alan Gibson
Leaking gutter at the Hamilton property. Photo / Alan Gibson

Cooper said while she was finally getting some action, she was speaking out about the broken rental property market because she believed she wasn't the only person living in a substandard house where the landlords dragged their feet.

"The main thing is the rent constantly going up but no improvements are being made to the houses and maintenance is very limited.

"It should not matter who I am or where I come from, we all deserve an equal standard of living without feeling intimidated, or that we have to accept substandard conditions if we are in a desperate situation in this housing shortage."

Home Let said it tried to resolve issues before they went to the Tenancy Tribunal, but believed an application for a hearing would be made because it did not believe it would be able to reach a reasonable agreement with the tenant.

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