A pair of Whanganui siblings have been ordered to pay over $10,000 to their former landlord, after causing significant damage to two St Johns Hill properties.
Both Paris Waipiata Tahau and Oshae Te Autiti Tahau were found liable for damage caused to the two adjoining flats, according to a Tenancy Tribunal decision released publicly this week.
The landlords' complaint said Paris Tahau, who rented the smaller two-bedroom unit at the address, signed a fixed-term rental agreement in October 2018. This agreement was extended on February 1, 2020, expiring on January 31, 2021.
The landlords, Alvin Relph and Jane Blackwell, alleged that at the end of the tenancy, Tahau had owed four weeks' worth of rent - equivalent to $1133.58.
On top of the unpaid rent, at the post-tenancy inspection the landlord discovered Tahau had left the property dirty, covered in rubbish and had failed to return the keys.
The landlord also said a brand-new washing machine installed in October was missing when the tenant moved out.
The written Tenancy Tribunal decision said a significant amount of damage had also been done to the flat, with four doors requiring replacement and multiple holes in the walls.
Meanwhile, the tenancy agreement for the adjoining three-bedroom flat, tenanted by Tahau's sister Oshae, was signed at the same time and also expired on January 31.
The landlord alleged that at the end of the tenancy, the tenant owed around $570 in unpaid rent and did not leave the property clean and free of rubbish.
A new freezer purchased by the landlord had also disappeared, alongside a lawnmower provided for use by both tenants.
There was also a significant amount of damage caused to this flat, with the landlord stating that scribbles, supposedly done by a child, were present on walls and doors in the bathroom. kitchen, hallway, and one bedroom.
The sliding door in the unit had also been damaged by the tenant, as well as the oven, which required repairing. The fridge in the unit had also been damaged after the tenant moved it to the garage after purchasing a new one.
In response to the claims, the tenant filed her own claim for compensation, alleging that the landlord failed to remedy an area of mould in the bathroom.
However, the tribunal found there was no evidence to suggest the landlord did not meet their obligations and said the tenant not cleaning the property led to an "increased likelihood" of mould.
The tribunal also took the rare step of awarding exemplary damages to the landlord, ordering Oshae Tahau to pay $1000 for unlawfully removing the property's smoke alarms.
Landlord's claims dismissed
Relph and Blackwell also sought both exemplary damages and a rent concession from both Oshae and Paris Tahau, but these were dismissed by the tribunal.
The day after the Tahau's tenancies ended, new tenants moved into the units, despite the units being in a state of disrepair.
The landlord sought a rent concession of $250 from both previous tenants, for the inconvenience to the new tenants while workers were on-site undertaking repairs and cleaning.
However, this was dismissed by the tribunal, which said a landlord should anticipate that at least one to two weeks be allowed for repairs and maintenance between tenancies to ensure the property is in appropriate condition.
The landlord also sought further exemplary damages from both tenants for failing to meet their obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act.
For Oshae Tahau, the landlord sought damages for the tenant's unauthorised use of a fireplace, failure to remove the rubbish weekly, owning of an unauthorised dog, and for causing the neighbours "significant stress".
Paris Tahau faced additional claims of damaging multiple doors, ceasing to pay rent four weeks before the end of the tenancy, and allegedly engaging in illegal activity after the landlord discovered a "blackened knife and a few grains of cannabis".
However, the tribunal found that none of the claims met the threshold for the award of exemplary damages, which requires the conduct to meet a high legal test.
In total, Paris Tahau was ordered to pay $5249.38 to the landlord immediately, while Oshae Tahau was ordered to pay $4819.20 - a mixture of unpaid rent, repair costs and exemplary damages.