Chch woman's tenancy terminated over rubbish, smoke alarm removal

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 6 Mar 2021, 3:51PM
The woman has been ordered to pay $1020.44 for removing smoke alarms. Photo / 123RF
The woman has been ordered to pay $1020.44 for removing smoke alarms. Photo / 123RF

Chch woman's tenancy terminated over rubbish, smoke alarm removal

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 6 Mar 2021, 3:51PM

A Christchurch woman has had her tenancy terminated after she refused to let the landlord carry out an inspection, gathered so much debris it obstructed doorways, and removed smoke alarms.

Anna Gabrielle Scholefield was served with a 14-day notice after a routine house inspection on January 21, 2021 revealed "a significant amount of rubbish and debris had accumulated in the property in a short space of time", a Tenancy Tribunal order explained.

"The landlord provided photographs which show that it is not possible to enter some rooms because of the debris."

Photographs also proved smoke alarms previously installed were missing during the inspection.

But when the landlord turned up for a follow-up inspection on February 5, the tenant refused to allow access to the Hoon Hay house.

"Curtains remained shut and what the landlord could see through the front door confirmed that the notices had not been complied with," tenancy adjudicator R Morgan wrote.

"The landlord gave evidence that the tenant said she had not had time to tidy the property."

Evidence was also provided that Scholefield stopped paying rent after the application to terminate her tenancy was filed. The landlord will file a further application for rent arrears and compensation.

"I accept the landlord's evidence and given the tenant failed to attend the hearing, I am satisfied that it would be inequitable to refuse to terminate the tenancy," Morgan wrote.

Scholefield has also been ordered to pay $1020.44 to Professionals Christchurch Limited in exemplary damages after removing the smoke alarms.

Breaching this obligation was an unlawful act for which exemplary damages could be awarded up to a maximum of $4,000, the Tribunal said.

"Given the safety reasons the smoke alarms, especially adjacent to sleeping areas, I am satisfied that an award of exemplary damages is appropriate in the circumstances," Morgan said.

Possession of the property was granted to Professionals Christchurch Limited on February 24, 2021.