An Auckland landlord accused of breaching lockdown rules at two rental properties has ditched his $1000-a-week taxpayer funded hotel and travelled 100km to live in a third property.
Mark David Philip was spotted at his late father's house in Ngatea on the Hauraki Plains on Wednesday.
The Herald understands that a police 105 complaint was lodged by a member of the public over his movements. Police wouldn't comment, citing privacy issues.
And when approached by the Herald yesterday afternoon, Philip admitted that he had gone to a fourth property since the Covid-19 national lockdown came into force on March 26.
"I didn't like the idea of the taxpayer being on the hook for this - at $1000-a-week - so I've been endeavouring to find something myself. Let's leave it at that," he said.
His father Dr Neil Philip died aged 90 on Boxing Day last year, leaving his son Mark the Ngatea property, the Herald understands.
It's understood he also took over full ownership of one of two Mt Eden properties that he had shared with his father.
When quizzed on whether he considered travelling more than one hour from Auckland to Ngatea constituted a breach of the stringent alert level-four lockdown rules, Philip accepted: "Absolutely would be, wouldn't it."
"I had to go somewhere," he added, claiming that he asked police before he left Auckland whether he could return to his own house.
"They wouldn't give me a definitive decision on whether I could or whether I couldn't. What was right and what was wrong - they refused to make a ruling. So I'm on my own. If they're not going to tell me what to do, I'll have to do my own thing."
However, despite his move, he still doesn't believe that Ngatea is now his fulltime bubble, citing one of his two Mt Eden properties as his permanent residence.
Stunned tenants at one of his Mt Eden rental properties phoned police on day one of the lockdown, saying he'd repeatedly turned up uninvited and without notice.
Philip, who is listed as living at the property in the 2017 electoral roll, says it's his main residence - despite saying he spent most of last year overseas.
Police officers escorted him off the premises in handcuffs and warned him to stay away.
The five housemates who are renting the four-bedroom villa now say they feel unsafe following their landlord's unannounced lockdown intrusions and have fashioned internal locks and devised a secret knocking system for added security.
After being told to leave, Philip then went to his other rental property just minutes away, but told the Herald he had no intention of staying there.
Philip claims he just picked up some personal items and left.
"That's it. I'm not going to sleep on the couch for a month, are you dreaming?" he said.
But the Herald has been told by tenants that he also "repeatedly" tried to gain access of the second property.
They say he went there twice on Thursday, March 26 - day one of the lockdown – and once the next day.
Tenants made it "very clear each time that he was not welcome to come in and was breaching lockdown".
Police were informed and officers advised them to call 111 if Philip returned.
"It was obviously a very concerning situation as two of us in the house are essential services so these breaches were putting us at risk as well as everyone we work with," one tenant told the Herald.
Philip is still angry with the police who said he couldn't stay at his Mt Eden property – and says their decision was wrong.
"According to the rules, my bubble is [one of his Mt Eden properties] – that's where I was at the beginning of this lockdown. I should be there," he said.
"They [police] are absolutely useless. They don't know what they are doing. This was all avoidable if they left me in my bubble. The police created this by taking me out of there. Why shouldn't I be in my house in my room?"
Last year, Philip was reprimanded by the Tenancy Tribunal for breaching a number of provisions in the act – relating to another property that he owns just around the corner. It included failing to comply with smoke alarm requirements, lodge bond, provide an insulation statement, or provide documents.
The Tenancy Tribunal found Philip – who it was noted was often overseas for extended periods and wouldn't put in place appropriate arrangements for landlord duties in his absence - was "patently unaware of his obligations as a landlord".
Philip says he is challenging that decision and is awaiting a rehearing date.