Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A revenge eviction

Last month, Checkpoint carried the story of an Auckland renter living in a house so poorly maintained that there was a literal swamp underneath it. Following the stories, the landleech was ordered to fix the house or face a $200,000 fine. The good news is that they've done that. The bad news is that they've evicted their tenant:

The tenants of an Auckland 'swamp house', which the Housing Minister labelled "third world", are being evicted after forcing their landlord to fix their home's issues.

After seeing the property on Checkpoint, Auckland Council deemed it insanitary and therefore unliveable on 31 August, meaning the landlord, Aven Raj, had 10 days to resolve the property's issues or face a $200,000 fine and an extra $20,000 every day the issues continued.

Those included uncompliant stormwater pipes, poor drainage, and mould.

Two business days later, on 4 September, the tenants were issued with a 90 day eviction notice. They weren't given a reason for the eviction.

As the article notes, retaliatory eviction notices are illegal. The Tenancy Tribunal can declare that they are of no effect, order that they not be repeated, and impose up to $4,000 in exemplary damages. The problem is that getting those orders, and the basic justice they represent, will likely see the tenant blacklisted by other landleeches and rental agencies.

And this is why our tenancy laws need to change. We need to make no-cause evictions illegal, protect the privacy of tenants at the Tribunal so they can't be blacklisted or punished for standing up for their rights, and make such discrimination illegal. We also need to make retaliatory evictions like this an actual criminal offence, since it shows an utter contempt for the law.

Labour is at least doing some of this. But they need to do more. Unfortunately half of them are landleeches too, so like tax rates, its another case where they have a huge conflict of interest over the law.