Boarding house grizzles spark council probe

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Queenstown Lakes District Council’s enforcement arm is investigating a cramped Queenstown Hill boarding house after receiving a formal complaint about it. 

The eight-bedroom property at No 8 Malaghan Street is home for 21 overseas visitors who pay $110-$120 a week each to share bedrooms and living spaces – and say it’s their only accommodation option during the height of winter when flats are scarce. 

British woman Gina Cooper, who claims she was “unreasonably” evicted last month by landlords Leigh Braden and her partner Phil Balaam, has complained to QLDC’s Lakes Environmental. 

“I’ve complained about what I believe are substandard living conditions and lack of health and safety in the 
house,” Cooper says. 

Cooper, 19, shared a room with two other British girls – also kicked out by Braden – and claims they were living “literally like sardines”. 

LE’s regulatory and enforcement team leader Anthony Hall confirms staff are investigating. “It’s within various departments at the moment. At this stage we’re just following through our investigations. There’s not much I can tell you at this stage,” he says. 

The investigation is expected to take a few weeks. 

Braden, who last week told Mountain Scene she isn’t breaking any laws, says she contacted LE yesterday and invited them to inspect the property with her. 

In a letter to the editor in Mountain Scene today, she says the house underwent a $40,000 refurbishment in 2009 and fills a market niche.

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