It is now a familiar scene for landlord Matt Hareb.
Damage to two of his rental properties includes blocked overflowing toilets, smashed walls and broken windows, damaged kitchens, stained carpets, discarded clothing, and fire pits on the front lawn.
The mess will cost Hareb, an earthmoving contractor who owns 20 rental properties around Taranaki, more than $ 20,000 to fix.
His grandparents owned rental properties and he decided to move into the business to give himself something to fall back on.
But now he’s not so sure, saying landlords have fewer rights to evict troublesome tenants than ever before.
In the past month, he has had to evict tenants from three rental properties in Waitara for excessive damage and bad behavior.
A tour through Stuff of two of those properties revealed the damage caused by the respective tenants – a solo mom with two teens and a group of 2-3 adults.
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In the first building, discarded clothing, shoes and white goods were dumped both inside and out.
A fire pit on the front lawn showed where the tenants had burned rubbish, while deep tire marks in the wide open area were evidence of cars making “wheelies”.
Interior walls had been smashed, closet doors had been ripped off hinges, and carpets were stained.
The toilet was blocked, but that hadn’t stopped tenants from using it until it overflowed with human waste, Hareb said.
In the second building, the site of destruction was much the same – except for a pile of rabbit feces in one bedroom and attempts to repair holes in smashed walls.
Both properties were extensively renovated 18 months ago with new carpets, kitchens and bathrooms before being let, Hareb said.
The repairs will set him back more than $ 10,000 per home, with a slim chance of insurance payout, he said.
Mortgages, rates and insurance premiums still have to be paid as long as the properties are not rented.
“People go on and on about landlords charging high rents and not renting quality, but I’m tired of landlords getting a bad name,” he said.
“We are working hard to make our properties livable and this is the result.”
Hareb said that despite screening, tenants tell lies, use drugs, and ask friends to write references for them.
“It’s very difficult to screen them when they come up with sad stories.”
Hareb often sent a group a 14-day notice within three months of moving in.
“We got to the point of deportation when Covid-19 hit and we had to wait until it was over to issue a 90-day eviction notice,” he said.
“Work and Income NZ (WINZ) begged me to get them back, but I said no.”
If tenants carelessly damage a rental property, they are liable under the Housing Rental Act for a maximum of four weeks of rent or the lessor’s deductible, whichever is the lower.
Under tenancy rules, landlords must give a good reason to vacate.
Property damage is not enough on its own, Hareb said.
“It goes to the tenancy court and you need a good reason to evict them.
“In the event of damage to the house, the tenant can always claim general wear and tear was the cause.
“The tribunal may require a minimum payment of $ 5 a week, but you’ll be lucky if you get half before they disappear.”