An Auckland landlord has been ordered to pay more than $10,000 to his former tenants – $5000 of which is for emotional damage after he harassed and allegedly assaulted them.
The landlord lived in the upper level of the Meadowbank property with his father. The property had three units – upper, basement and garage.
In May 2020 the landlord and his father had a boarder in their upper flat. The boarder entered into a relationship with the tenant in the garage flat and they moved in together.
The relationship between the couple and the landlord was good initially – they would go to the landlord's flat and eat dinner with him and socialise, but this soured when the landlord kept inviting himself over to the couple's flat.
He would also invite his own friends and family over without the tenants' approval.
It came to a head one night when the landlord and his tenants allegedly had a physical altercation, and the tenants claim he assaulted them.
The landlord then "loudly and aggressively" ordered his tenants to leave with no notice.
The tenants told the Tenancy Tribunal they left in the early hours.
"We packed our two suitcases in the early morning and Work and Income helped us to move into emergency housing."
With Auckland in Covid-19 level 4, they were homeless for three months, living in emergency housing in Auckland's city centre.
The Tenancy Tribunal decision says the eviction made the tenants' living situation challenging and caused considerable damage.
"The landlord's breach was serious and impacted the tenants' dignity and caused hurt and humiliation. That the tenants might struggle to find somewhere to live was entirely foreseeable."
On top of the emotional harm caused by the swift eviction, the tribunal also found the living space being rented was illegal as it had been converted from a garage to a living area – when the landlord had only been given council permission to change it to a sleepout.
The unit had a gas cooker, which the tribunal said could have increased the risk of fire – so the landlord was ordered to repay a third of the rent the tenants had given him during their tenancy.
He was also charged $450 for tampering with the electrical supply to the unit after becoming annoyed with his tenants for leaving the lights on when they went out. Although the landlord denied it, the tribunal found he had deliberately switched off the power to the unit and fined him.
The final charge came as the landlord never lodged his tenant's bond, meaning he was forced to pay a further $333.
In total the landlord was made to pay his tenants $10,632.01 which was broken down to a rent repayment of $4828, payment for emotional damages totalling $5000, the electricity interference at $450 and the bond repayment.
He was also made to repay the filing fees of $20.44.