Landlord ordered to pay tenant $600 after photographing her in bed

Author
Vaimoana Tapaleao, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 18 Feb 2020, 2:10PM
A landlord has been ordered to pay his tenant $600 after taking a photo of her lying in bed without her knowing. (Photo / Getty)
A landlord has been ordered to pay his tenant $600 after taking a photo of her lying in bed without her knowing. (Photo / Getty)

Landlord ordered to pay tenant $600 after photographing her in bed

Author
Vaimoana Tapaleao, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 18 Feb 2020, 2:10PM

A "cavalier" landlord who took a photo of his tenant lying in bed - without her knowledge - has been ordered by the Tenancy Tribunal to pay up.

The tenant was left distressed and embarrassed, an adjudicator says.

Harinder Khinda Khinda will have to pay Christchurch woman Harman Sonia just over $600 made up of compensation and exemplary damages relating to the incident.

"The tenant claims ... exemplary damages for unlawful entry by the landlord and interference with her quiet enjoyment of the premises," documents show.

The Tribunal heard there had been two occasions when Khinda or his wife turned up at the Greers Rd property to carry out an inspection without previous notice.

On one of those impromptu visits - in August 2018 - a photograph was taken of Sonia without her knowledge.

"It shows the tenant lying in bed in her bedroom apparently unaware that the photograph was being taken.

"The photograph must have been taken on August 18, 2018, during the landlord's inspection of the premises."

Documents appear to indicate that the existence of the photograph only came to light when it was presented by the landlord to the Tribunal, in a hearing, as part of an earlier application against the tenant.

In that episode, the landlord's application was dismissed and the tenant awarded a payment out of her bond.

In the latest incident, the adjudicator found Khinda's behaviour showed a "cavalier disregard" for the tenant's rights, as well as his own obligations as a landlord.

"The landlord's act of taking a photograph of the tenant in her bed was unacceptable and amounted to a breach of the tenant's quiet enjoyment of the premises.

"The landlord was entitled to carry out inspections, but only after giving the proper notice of them to the tenant. I award $200 for each incident.

"I also award the tenant $200 compensation for the photograph, which I accept caused her embarrassment and distress."

Despite the incident, the adjudicator said he did not find the landlord's conduct amounted to harassment of the tenant and that there was no pattern of behaviour that could amount to harassment.

The Tribunal noted that under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, a landlord must not enter a premises without either the consent of the tenant or lawful authority.

"A landlord must not interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of the tenant in their use of the premises."

Khinda will have to pay a total of $620.44, which includes a filing fee reimbursement, to his tenant.