Forced to share a home with strangers

North Shore Times - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - DILEEPA FONSEKA

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.’’

Mark Ben­vie

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.

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