A woman has been awarded $500 after photographs used to sell a rental property showed her personal belongings.
In a decision released by the Tenancy Tribunal Crockers Property Management, Edmund Lim and Jay Zhang have been ordered to pay Monika Kuciel damages after an online ad for the apartment she rented in the SugarTree complex included pictures of her clothes, shoes and other personal items.
With the apartment due to be sold, Kuciel gave her consent to the landlord for additional photographs of the central Auckland rental property to be taken.
But when she discovered the listing she was left "very distressed".
She was also concerned for her 15-year-old daughter, whose bedroom was photographed and shown in the advertisement.
In evidence given to the tribunal the mother said she immediately asked the photos to be taken off the listing but the landlord did not respond.
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Instead, the only discussion involved a suggestion she paid for replacement photographs.
The tribunal found the landlord had interfered with the tenant's privacy in circumstances that amounted to harassment.
"I find they have committed an unlawful act," tribunal adjudicator H Cheeseman said.
Kuciel told the tribunal she did not give consent for photographs of her possessions to be displayed as part of the sale listing. She had thought the photographer would be updating images of the apartment's balcony area and perhaps some of the more unique features of the apartment such as the kitchen's fixtures and fittings.
"I consider that the landlord's actions were intentional," the adjudicator found. "The landlord was aware of what the photographs were for, had control over what photographs were used, and should have been aware of the tenant's right to privacy, and the need to obtain consent before using the photographs. The conduct of the landlord is aggravated by the refusal to remove the photographs when the tenant expressed her distress at their use."
The effect of the landlord's actions was to cause distress and embarrassment to
the tenant, said Cheeseman.
Kuciel was awarded $500 in exemplary damages.