An Auckland woman is living in fear after her landlord tried repeatedly to move into her flat during the Covid-19 lockdown, claiming it was his house and he had nowhere else to go.

But the landlord, who was handcuffed by police and is now staying in a taxpayer-funded lockdown hotel, claims he was simply following Jacinda Ardern's advice by going home to stay in his bubble.

"There was an empty room and this is my house," Mark Philip told the Herald.

"Where am I supposed to go? Whose bubble am I supposed to infect?"


Rachel, 30, and her four flatmates called police twice on the first day of lockdown after Philip turned up uninvited at their Mt Eden rental, insisting it was his permanent residence.

On a third occasion, they say he gained access by dashing inside when they went to see who was knocking at the door.

Under the lockdown rules people are supposed to remain in the house where they slept the night before the restrictions began and non-essential movement is not permitted.

The flatmates have now fashioned internal locks to keep Philip out and devised a secret knocking system to identify themselves for added security.

Rachel - who would only give her first name to prevent jeopardising future rental opportunities - is an essential worker in the Covid-19 pandemic response.

She rented a room in the four bedroom villa on March 16 for $220 a week.

Though she understood Philip had lived at the property previously, the rooms were all occupied when she moved in last month. She and her flatmates are adamant he no longer resided there.

"He's saying he doesn't have any other place to go.


"But if he gains access to the property I'll feel like my safety has been completely compromised.

"There's nothing normal about this situation.

"I wouldn't want to live with Mark."

On Thursday March 26 - day one of the lockdown - Philip arrived at the house about 10.30am and told the flatmates he was moving in.

He wanted to take an empty room vacated by another flatmate the previous day.

Rachel said the flatmates refused and called police, who escorted him off the property in handcuffs.

Property owner Mark Philip was warned twice by police he was in breach of lockdown restrictions. Photo / Supplied
Property owner Mark Philip was warned twice by police he was in breach of lockdown restrictions. Photo / Supplied

But he returned that afternoon, and again insisted on entering.

In a statement, police confirmed they were called to the house twice that day, "after threats had reportedly been made by one party at the location".

"One of those present at the address, a man, was noted to be in breach of the alert level 4 restrictions and was asked to leave the address." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Police confirmed they were called back later that day, when the man breached lockdown restrictions again.

"These requirements have been explained to him, and advice offered before he left the address."

The two incidents would be taken into consideration if the man committed further breaches, police said.

Rachel said the flatmates were advised to call 111 if Philip returned.

He is currently embroiled in Tenancy Tribunal proceedings with her other flatmates.

She was now anxious living at the property but had little choice given the lockdown.

Rachel, 30, says she and her flatmates have fashioned internal locks and devised a secret knocking system for added security. Photo / Michael Craig
Rachel, 30, says she and her flatmates have fashioned internal locks and devised a secret knocking system for added security. Photo / Michael Craig

"If I could move out I would. I've never been in this situation where I've felt unsafe and had to stay."

However Philip told the Herald he'd lived at the house intermittently for the last eight years. He was regularly overseas on business but considered it his permanent home.

There was no tenancy agreement in place. The property was a "boarding house" and the occupants were effectively his "flatmates".

Philip is listed as living at the property in the 2017 electoral roll and it made sense for him to stay there during lockdown, he said.

"I did everything that Jacinda Ardern told me to.

"For the purposes of the lockdown I choose a place to live. They didn't want me there.

"I'm part of that bubble."

After being removed from the property, he visited the police station to seek clarity around the law, but said he was only advised to contact the Tenancy Tribunal.

As he had nowhere else to go he was put up in a hotel costing taxpayers $1000 a week.

The situation was "an outrage" and he planned to file a complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Smith and Partners property lawyer Alana Kalinowski said the case was likely to hinge on whether the lockdown restrictions precluded Philip from moving to the property and whether police had acted within their lawful powers.

"Any movement of people right now is not legal."

Property lawyer Joanna Pidgeon said the Trade Me advertisement for Rachel's room advertised it as part of a flatting situation, rather than a boarding house where the landlord lived.

The situation was "highly unusual", given Rachel had been faced with sharing the house with someone she did not know during the lockdown.

"The situation could have been averted if there had been clear written documentation and communication before the lockdown started, then she could have chosen to form her bubble elsewhere."

Tenancy Services manager Jennifer Sykes said the lockdown rules were designed to prevent movement between properties.

Landlords could live with others in boarding houses or some flatting arrangements but these situations should made clear before people moved in.