$9k fine for ‘appalling’ rental, landlord says tenant ‘got what she paid for’


The landlord of an Auckland rental that has been labelled “appalling” says the tenant got what she paid for.

A recently released Tenancy Tribunal decision shows Sammy Waitai was awarded $9,283.30 in compensation after her landlord was found to have failed to keep a Te Atatū South property to a reasonable standard.

Waitai’s tenancy at the Flanshaw Rd property began on March 7, 2018. She lived at the two-bedroom, one bathroom 1950s home managed by Shelter Realty with her children, including her 12-year-old son who has special needs.

The Te Atatū South property had received little work in 70 years, tribunal adjudicator Toni Prowse said.

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The Te Atatū South property had received little work in 70 years, tribunal adjudicator Toni Prowse said.

In June 2019, landlord Yaowei (Kathleen) Yin increased the rent from $400 to $430.

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Waitai contacted Care Waitākere Trust for financial assistance due to the rent increase. Given her son’s needs, Fiona Halliwell from the trust met with Waitai at her home.

“Ms Halliwell who works for CWT and is the tenant’s representative at the hearing, told me that [when] she went to the property, she was appalled at the standard of housing that was being provided,” tribunal adjudicator Toni Prowse said.

Waitai told the tribunal “significant” areas of the home were not provided in a reasonable state of repair.

This included missing or broken windows in the sun porch, rotting wood, gutters missing, holes in the floor, cracks in the shower, cupboards needing replacing, wallpaper lifting, rubbish in the yard and non-secured fencing.

Yin accepted the house was worn and old, but said it was at a “habitable level and reaches the minimum standards.”

The property manager, only identified as Ms N, said the house was in the lower quartile for rent in the area, and that reflected the age and wear of it.

Prowse said photos of the house showed very little had been done to it in 70 years, appearing to have its original wallpaper, kitchen, bathroom and flooring.

Six months after the tenancy began, Ms N carried out an inspection, emailing Yin her concerns about the property.

These included the house being damp, wallpaper peeling, issues with the kitchen bench and bathroom.

Yin asked Ms N to get quotes to fix the damage, but she said it was too expensive.

Urgent repairs to the toilet and shower had been done during the tenancy.

In the decision, Prowse said she was left in “no doubt” that the property was not provided or maintained to a reasonable standard and Yin was found in breach of her obligations.

“The landlord says that the tenant has had the benefit of living at the house and as the rent is at the lower end of the spectrum, then any compensation award should take this into account.

“The landlord essentially submits that the tenant got what she paid for.”

Prowse said Waitai had the “very bare minimum of amenity” and that was a roof over her head and a place of shelter for her family.

“The lack of hygienic surface to prepare food on, the state of the shower and the vanity in the bathroom, the uneven concrete floor in the porch, the broken windows on the patio and the rubbish in the back lawn, and non-locking gate show a property that falls well below a reasonable standard.”

Prowse said she was satisfied Yin’s breaches were of a nature and extent that they impacted significantly on how Waitai could use the property.

Just over $10,000 was awarded to Waitai, but $1000 was taken out to compensate Yin for rubbish and minor repairs.

The property was sold following the end of the tenancy, with records showing it went for $946,000 in October 2019.