The Dominion Post

Landlord left between rock and hard place

- Susan Edmunds

The Tenancy Tribunal has called a landlord’s claim that a tenant hid a 3-metre-high rock from him ‘‘prepostero­us’’.

Eunice Matenga rented a Whanganui property owned by Steve Robertson from February last year to January this year.

But Robertson said that when she moved out, he had to pay $3510 for the removal of a large rock, $1046 for concrete slabs and other concrete pieces left around the property and $610 to fix lawns, remove weeds and remove garden rubbish. He supplied a statement from a builder showing the rock was lodged 2m into the ground and was a metre above ground. It weighed 8-10 tonnes.

When it was removed, it left a crater 2m deep and 2.3m in diameter. Robertson said that when he bought the property the rock was not there.

But Matenga argued that it had been in place throughout the tenancy. She showed the tribunal photos from her property manager, taken in 2016, with the rock in place.

The tribunal said Robertson was still adamant the rock had not been there when he looked at the property before he bought it in November 2018.

He suggested Matenga had got a crane to remove it when he viewed the house, then put it back afterwards. The tribunal adjudicato­r said that suggestion was ‘‘prepostero­us’’. ‘‘Robertson’s own maintenanc­e man stated the rock was embedded at least 2m undergroun­d and 2016 photograph­s show it was in the ground at that time.’’

The claim was dismissed. Robertson also claimed the builder had to remove pieces of concrete weighing up to 120kg. Matenga ‘‘categorica­lly denied’’ that she buried them in the ground. The tribunal said it was highly unlikely she would have buried them in the ground and added more concrete slabs to that which were already in the section at the start of the tenancy.

‘‘Robertson has failed to establish Matenga is liable for the cost of removal of the concrete and shrubs.’’ His claims for the garden cleanup, holes in the walls and damage to the pantry were also dismissed.

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