Queenstown rental property managers have had mixed success in 2012 cases before the Tenancy Tribunal.
Official information checks throw up six cases between tenants and property managers, with another two settled before their hearings.
Of the six tribunal verdicts, three are landlord victories, two are tenant wins and the sixth is a draw.
Tenants Jonathan and Gareth Davies got the nod over Hoamz To Rent for $213.90 wrongly deducted from their bond for lightbulbs.
Queenstown Accommodation Centre (QAC) were also unsuccessful in pursuing tenant Olivia Baggott for $2772 in rent arrears, rubbish removal, garden tidying, cleaning, repairs and replacement appliances.
The tribunal found Baggott correctly terminated her own tenancy – leaving co-tenant Bruno Sampaio solely responsible – with the assent of QAC’s Craig Dow.
Yet nine weeks after Baggott left Queenstown, Dow emailed her saying she and Sampaio had abandoned the property.
Despite Baggott replying she was no longer responsible, she and Sampaio – who had gone overseas – were jointly named in QAC’s action.
Baggott was completely cleared of liability.
“[QAC’s] task file note records Mr Sampaio as the remaining tenant and correspondence from [QAC] was addressed to Mr Sampaio and not Ms Baggott,” the tribunal says.
The tribunal also found rent payments formerly came from Baggott’s bank account – but then were subsequently being paid by Sampaio.
“Only when the premises were discovered abandoned was Ms Baggott pursued by [QAC].”
A more typical case of the troublesome tenant was Hoamz versus Chelsea Demelza, with the tenant ordered to pay $1563 for rent arrears, rubbish removal, carpet cleaning, replacement keys and wall repairs.
Hoamz also successfully took an interesting case against joint tenants who welshed on a 12-month tenancy before even moving in.
Just a day beforehand, Kelly Clarke and Jeffrey Child emailed Hoamz saying: “We’re now unable to take this house as our circumstances have changed over the last few days due to family issues.”
The tribunal found evidence that Clarke and Child were bound by the tenancy agreement they’d signed and must pay $2331.42 for six weeks rent while the property lay vacant.
A similarly hard line was taken against tenant Brian Warren, who sought a reduction in his fixed-term tenancy.
Warren first claimed he had to return to Tauranga for “spinal surgery”, the tribunal says, before then admitting to leaving Queenstown because of a failed business venture.
The tribunal notes a fixed-term tenancy may only be reduced due to “unforeseen circumstances” causing “severe hardship”.
Tribunal referee: “Given the current economic climate, the prospect of a new business venture in Queenstown failing would be quite high. I consider the failure of [Warren’s] new business to be anything but unforeseen.”
However, in another fixed-term tenancy case also brought by a tenant, the tribunal showed its softer side.
Brittanee Walburn was left the sole tenant of a Sunshine Bay unit when three male co-tenants took off – she then had to relocate to Te Anau.
While Walburn lost her entire bond, she successfully appealed for an unspecified reduction in her tenancy time, with the tribunal saying she’d otherwise suffer “extreme hardship”.
“Brittanee Walburn has been extremely responsible in dealing with the consequences of her joint tenants abandoning the fixed-term tenancy,” the tribunal noted.
Walburn continued paying her share of the rent despite no longer living there and completed or paid for all cleaning and rubbish removal, the verdict records.