Renters given seven days' notice to move out of an Auckland apartment complex say they've been through "hell" with some even forced to move into caravan parks or back in with their parents.
Deemed a leaky building, the tenants were ordered out of The Ridge apartment complex in St Marys Bay because its power and fire alarm were due to be turned off to allow workers to fix weathertightness issues.
But while the High Court last year ordered landlords to give their tenants 90 days' notice, some tenants say they did not get that.
Instead, tenants, like real estate agent Dusan Valenta and his three flatmates, only received seven days' notice last week.
Valenta said he had been through "hell" and many sleepless nights since then trying to find a new rental.
"We started panicking and ... I physically had to stop working that day," he said.
"I then made about 20 calls to property managers trying to find a suitable property for us, which was pretty much a logistical nightmare."
Court documents indicate that tenants, including families, in as many as 19 of the complex's 33 apartments may have been affected by the short-notice eviction.
And while Valenta believes he has since found a new rental, others are have not been so lucky after being turfed out at the busiest time of the year when rental companies are inundated with hundreds of enquiries and applications.
One of Valenta's flatmates has been forced to move in with her parents, while another couple have been spending nights in campgrounds and caravan parks while they hunt for another property.
The couple said they had been to house viewings where up to 30 people have queued to get in the door.
Valenta and another affected tenant Scott Ruddock said they were still waiting for their bonds despite facing moving costs and expected compensation.
Landlord Brian Hudson did not wish to comment.
However William Maxwell-Steele — the director of trusts that own 12 apartments in the complex, including those where Valenta and Ruddock live — said he felt "awful" for the tenants.
Maxwell-Steele said he had no financial interest in the apartments and had only been acting as a director of the trusts to help his long-time friend Hudson.
As a trustee director, he said he had been helping the tenants as best he could and had "advocated" on their behalf to the owner Hudson.
He said he had also lodged an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to "address whether any compensation should be payable given the difficult circumstances around this matter."
Hudson also lived in the apartment complex and had to now find his own alternative place to stay as well, he said.
"This is an awful situation for everyone involved," Maxwell-Steele said.
"It is causing me enormous stress, so I can only imagine the stress that is it is causing for the innocent tenants."
The tenants have been caught up in a court battle between owners of the apartments over which company should be contracted to complete weathertightness repairs.
The impasse was resolved with the court appointment of an administrator, who then proceded with repair arrangements.
As a result some tenants late last year were given 90 days' notice. However not all owners agreed with the appointment, and did not issue notice to their tenants. It is these tenants who have now been given seven days' notice.
However, administrator Anthony McCullagh said the High Court had given clear directions to the owners to give 90 days' notice.
He said repair work had been due to start in the complex yesterday, but a grace period had been granted over this weekend for those tenants still in their apartments.
Yet - with his contractors "twiddling their thumbs and costing us penalty rates as every day goes by" - the complex's power would definitely be cut on Tuesday, he said.
TENANTS IN DISARRAY
Tenants say the situation has left them in disarray.
One tenant, who didn't want to be named, claimed he wasn't even told by his landlord that he had to leave the building. He instead heard it through other tenants.
Another tenant said she worked in hospitality from 10am-to-midnight and hadn't had time to look for another place. Instead, she was moving to her parents home on the North Shore and had been forced to give away most of her furniture.
She said she was now going to have to pay for taxi rides home each night from her workplace in the Viaduct.
Valenta's neighbour Ruddock said he had always known the complex had leaky building issues and that they would have to move out eventually.
But he said he had been repeatedly assured they would get 90 days' notice when it happened.
He said he may have found a new apartment for himself and his four flatmates, but they were facing a $300 per week rent increase and more than $8000 in moving costs.
He also said some of his flatmates and been forced to ask their families to wire them money.
Valenta was also facing a rent rise and more than $4000 in moving costs after finding he also thinks he has found a new rental. "We've had to go through hell," he said.