Landlord stunned at house damage and filth left by tenants

WeRent note: This is a sad story, but it is worth noting that the landlord did not act quickly enough. Also, legally the landlord cannot just dispose of tenant goods like this: however  there are ways around this if you know the rules

Whanganui Chronicle 13th Apr 2013 6:00 AM
By Zac Yates

For the second time in as many months, another Wanganui landlord has been left with a house damaged and thousands of dollars out of pocket.

In February, the Chronicle reported Carlton Ave property owner Trevor Schmidt had a tenant leave town owing him $2000 in rent and having caused more than $5000 worth of damage to the property.

This week, Myra Williams contacted the Chronicle about her rental property in Gonville which was vacated at the weekend and left in a state of disrepair. She said the tenants had not paid rent in some time and, even after she gave them notice to move out, they still failed to pay. When she went to see the tenants about their moving out date she found the house empty, full of rubbish, and with holes in almost every wall.

One bedroom smelt strongly of urine. Another bedroom had children’s clothing piled up to the window sill.

“It’s so strange because out of all these clothes there are no adult ones. It’s only kids’ clothing, nothing from mum and dad. I know they had at least three kids so it’s like they just grabbed their own things.

“It’s strange because some of these are awesome clothes and almost brand new.”

Ms Williams said she approached the tenants to let them know some of their belongings had been left behind, but they were not interested.

“I asked when they were coming back to grab the clothes and clean up the rubbish, and they said ‘no, we’re not going back to do that’.”

Ms Williams said one of the most disappointing things was the state of the kitchen, which was refurbished two years ago.

“The benchtop is solid rimu but somehow it’s completely broken. I don’t even know how you could break wood that thick. There’s a patch on the floor that hasn’t seen a mop for two years.”

Graffiti was sprayed on the garage wall and the door was smashed, as well as the garage itself being full of rubbish. A near-new pram, two bicycles and a dozen pairs of shoes were also found among the piles.

“I can’t afford shoes like that but somehow these people who didn’t have jobs could afford to just leave them behind,” she said.

Ms Williams was stunned at the condition of the house she was once so proud to call home.

“I don’t know how anyone could let children live in this filth, I wouldn’t let kids live here. I wouldn’t let my dog live here.”

Langley Atkinson, president of the Whanganui Property Investors Association, said such events were rare but encouraged landlords to use existing tools to check out prospective tenants.

“The Department of Building and Housing has free tools on their website for landlords, including access to tenancy tribunal records, which are kept for three years. That way if a landlord has any suspicions they can check out the tenant and see if they have been through the tribunal process in that time. They can also have a credit check done with the tenant’s permission, but most just walk away if they think it won’t come back positive.”

He said landlords should also check a tenant’s references for bogus landlord numbers. The Tenancy Tribunal charged $20 to lodge a complaint, which a landlord could do after three weeks of missed rent payments.

“It should definitely be done as soon as possible to avoid getting to this point. It also means the tenant is on record as having left a property in arrears so it helps any landlords they may approach in future.”

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