Auckland landlord must pay tenant $38,000 after renting cold and drafty garage

Accommodation on Auckland's North Shore was advertised as a two bedroom self-contained apartment, but it was a partially converted garage.  (Picture from Google Street View)

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Accommodation on Auckland’s North Shore was advertised as a two bedroom self-contained apartment, but it was a partially converted garage. (Picture from Google Street View)

An Auckland landlord who rented what was advertised as a flat but turned out to be a partially converted garage has been ordered to pay nearly $40,000 in damages.

Two tenants, whose names are removed, responded to an ad for a self-contained two-bedroom apartment in 2018, according to a recent decision by the Rentals Tribunal.

But the flat, in the Auckland suburb of Narrow Neck, was actually a partially converted, non-freestanding garage, as it was below the main part of the house occupied by the owner and her family.

The tenants said they did not have access to the upper floor of the North Shore property.

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The tenants testified that the premises suffered from certain “major deficiencies” which negatively affected their use and enjoyment of the premises.

They said the metal garage door took up almost the entire living room wall. It was not insulated and had a large space around it of 50mm which had to be filled with material to limit drafts.

The garage floor was concrete with carpet glued directly to it, and the premises suffered from high humidity and humidity, causing mold growth and a prevalence of slugs, they said.

Tribunal arbitrator Bryan King said drafts and a lack of insulation contributed to the problems, along with the cold and dampness felt by tenants.

They said the owner, Sara Hong, has also become a constant presence in the garden right outside the sliding doors of their living space.

They said Hong’s presence was “disturbing and disturbing” and undermined their peace, comfort and privacy.

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King concluded that the premises could not lawfully be occupied as accommodation for a separate household and were therefore unlawful premises.

The court received evidence from council records indicating that the original building consent was for a dwelling with two bedrooms upstairs and one bedroom downstairs.

Later, the downstairs bedroom was split in two, which it appears might not have required planning permission, King said. Consent was then obtained to install a bathroom in the lower area.

However, there is no indication that consent was ever obtained for the premises to be used as a place of residence for a separate household unit, unrelated to the occupation of the upper part of the property, King said.

Hong was ordered to pay a total of $38,780 for various offenses including renting illegal premises, violating a right of peaceful enjoyment and failing to provide some form of heating.

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