Unwanted drunken visits by her abusive grandfather combined with unhealthy substandard and unsecure living conditions has resulted in a tenant being awarded more than $10,000.
Claudia Dickson moved into a Rakaia address owned by her grandfather, Steven Bradford, in October 2019, after she was having trouble with another tenant at her Kāinga Ora rental in Christchurch.
At the time the organisation didn't terminate tenancies for anti-social behaviour so Dickson checked out Bradford's vacant house which was in a state of disrepair, dirty and untidy.
Dickson told the Tenancy Tribunal she felt pressured by Bradford and other family members to rent the dirty run-down house.
"She agreed to take the tenancy provided the landlord cleaned and tidied the premises and completed the necessary repairs before she moved into them, to which the landlord agreed," the tribunal's decision says.
However, when the mother of three moved in the promised repairs and cleaning had not been done so Dickson confronted her grandfather.
"His response was that she could find somewhere else if she didn't want to move."
Unfortunately, Dickson had given up her previous tenancy and had no option other than to move into the four-bedroom house.
Some windows in the house were not weatherproof, one had to be covered by a plastic sheet during the tenancy to keep the wind and rain out, there was a hole in the bathroom wall to the outside and tiles were lifting from the floor and near the shower.
Dickson also put her foot through the rotten floor in the bathroom, boards on the deck were broken and had to be covered for safety and a section of guttering was faulty with water overflowing down the side of the house.
The tribunal ruled the most serious breaches were the defects resulting in the house being damp, cold and difficult to keep warm which adversely affected the family's health.
The house's front doors were poorly fitted and couldn't be locked so Dickson installed a clasp on the outside so she could secure them with a padlock when she went out.
She used rope tied around the doorknobs to hold them closed from the inside.
Other hazards included a live electric cable running from the back of the house to a workshop, which was used by her grandfather for his jewellery making business, no smoke alarms and additions had been built on without council consent.
Dickson said Bradford would come to visit about once a month and stay for up to seven days at a time.
"Sometimes the landlord would be inebriated and abusive towards the tenant."
On one occasion Dickson called the police after Bradford refused to leave but he had gone by the time they arrived.
Bradford also arrived unannounced to use the workshop and Dickson claimed there had been no agreement he could.
The tribunal noted the landlord was also Dickson's grandfather but he needed to recognise he had to comply with his obligations as a landlord.
"The landlord turning up at the premises without notice or consent and using the workshop constitutes unlawful entry and an unlawful act each time it occurred."
The tribunal awarded Dickson a total of $10,700, made up of $4250 in exemplary damages for Bradford's failure to repair the substandard conditions, $1000 for unlawful entry, $750 for failing to provide locks and $4700 in compensation but made it clear the amount could have been more.
"If the tenant had produced better evidence of the mould inside the premises that she complained of and of the health effects on her and her children, these awards would have been higher."