Mouldy flat made me ill – former tenant


An Invercargill woman is warning house-hunters in Queenstown to be wary when looking for accommodation in the resort.

Tammy Hall says renting a mouldy flat had left her sick and unemployed.

She moved to Queenstown in May after securing a job with a concrete company.

But after spending only one night in her new accommodation, she was forced to move back to Invercargill as she could not secure an alternative place to live.

“It was pretty horrendous. I coughed all night, my skin was itchy – I came up in a rash. I didn’t sleep at all.

“I couldn’t stay another night. The air quality was bad; it felt like I couldn’t breathe.”

Hall says she had viewed the one-bedroom apartment on Watts Rd previously but thought dehumidifiers and a deep clean would leave it habitable.

Two dehumidifiers had to be emptied three times during her 24-hour stay.

After her arrival at the apartment, she found mould under the kitchen sink, on door frames, on window sills, on curtains and also within the walls.

“The unit was not fit to be lived in. Having nowhere else to go in Queenstown, I was forced to return to Invercargill.

“This meant I could not start my new job. I lost money through moving costs and I also lost a job because of a mouldy flat.

“I am now still sick with bronchitis and currently jobless.”

The lack of overall suitable accommodation in the resort added to her problems, she says. She had already struggled to find anywhere that would accept animals or was within her price range.

“I believe people are so desperate for accommodation up there [Queenstown] they weren’t expecting anyone to challenge conditions.

“That’s why I was quick to jump at a flat that would allow me to keep my pets.”

She urged caution to anyone looking for accommodation and warned individuals to carry out detailed inspections.

Hall was renting the apartment for $270 per week through Queenstown Accommodation Centre.

General manager Craig Dow says the property was now off the market and the owner had been instructed to carry out upgrades after a detailed builder’s report was done.

While he was sympathetic to Hall’s predicament, he says their job was to act on behalf of the client.

“We are the agent for the owner and people rent out a property as they find it.

“That is part of our job. It is just unfortunate there is such a shortage of houses in Queenstown at the moment.”

He welcomed the announcement last week by Housing Minister Nick Smith to strengthen tenancy laws, meaning every rental property in New Zealand will have to be fully insulated within four years.

“We are open to the upcoming legislation. It puts some responsibility back on the landlord to provide property to a certain standard.”

But for Miss Hall, this was of little consequence.

“I’m living with my parents and I am unemployed – that is how bad it is,” she says.

“This has hurt me in a big way.”