Forced to share a home with strangers
A North Shore family of four was forced to share with strangers after a landlord rented part of a house they were living in to somebody else.
In a recently released decision, North Shore Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator Mark Benvie found Spectrum Rental interfered with Philipa and Leslie Johnson’s ‘‘peaceful enjoyment’’ of their tenancy by renting part of the house to a different set of tenants.
The company then left both parties to divide the bills between themselves, the July 24 decision said.
The Johnsons, who have two children, moved into the house in Browns Bay in May of 2015. They paid $1015 a week in rent.
Benvie said while the Johnsons were living upstairs, the landlord entered into a separate tenancy agreement with a different set of tenants, who moved in downstairs.
But with only one power meter at the house, the Johnsons soon found themselves in the ‘‘unsatisfactory’’ situation of paying the bills and chasing the other tenant up for reimbursements.
Some of those payments were ‘‘significant’’, Benvie said.
One bill, dated January 16, 2017, was for $831.99.
The Johnsons’ landlord also asked them to share internet with
‘‘"It seems probable ... the premises downstairs could not lawfully be occupied as separate residential premises.’’
their housemates, meaning they had to buy a new modem to cope with the increased traffic.
Benvie said the Johnsons even shared rubbish and recycling bins with the other tenants at one point.
‘‘It seems probable, although the available evidence was not conclusive, that the premises downstairs could not lawfully be occupied as separate residential premises,’’ he said.
Benvie ordered Spectrum Rental to pay $1000 for the breach and an additional $5370 for other claims made by the Johnsons.
Those included $50 for a ‘‘technical’’ invasion of privacy after a photo of the house, featuring the tenant’s outdoor furniture, ended up on the internet.
The tribunal dismissed other claims that the landlord had installed incorrect smoke alarms and that a fridge, central vacuum system, and burglar alarm at the house were not functioning.
The Browns Bay landlord had two seperate tenancies for the one house.