NZ's worst rental horror stories

If you've never had to share a house with bees, count yourself lucky.

Kiwis have posted on Reddit about their horror renting stories, including one house in Tasman which had a hive in the walls "which the landlord was aware of the entire time".

"He wouldn't do anything about it," said Reddit user observeandinteract, then got angry when they called an exterminator in themselves and sent him the bill.

The purge didn't work, so "we just lived with the bees", they said.

Another user said the back half of their house fell off the "loose bricks" it was sitting on "because the ivy growing in the walls basically got too big".

One landlord apparently didn't want to fork out for "proper wiring", so "drilled two massive holes in the floor and ran an extension cord through it and under the floor".

"This the same landlord that upped our rent by sixty bucks, and when we said we needed six weeks' notice he said 'fine, in six weeks your rent goes up by 100 bucks'," wrote spondooly. "Good times."

One potential tenant said they were looking at the upstairs bathroom in a two-storey place when the agent gave them an ominous warning.

"Don't step there or you might end up in the basement."

One person found out - after they moved in - the downstairs room in their place was being rented out on Airbnb.

"The craziest guest was this f**kin insane eastern European woman," wrote familycrapaccount. "She first came and asked me for spare pants, I asked why. She had literally shit herself... I felt unsafe so I f**kin gapped after two months of that shit."

Another Reddit user described a house in Wellington's Owhiro Bay they lived in which "basically rained from the roof".

"The sun never once touched it in two years," said rickenbackerkid. "We stopped using drawers and cupboards as they were so black with mould."

They endured it because as a 21-year-old, they were "scared about making a fuss and getting kicked out".

Don't be scared - landlords

Andrew King of the Property Investors Federation (NZPIF) told Newshub tenants shouldn't be afraid of raising issues with their landlord or property manager.

"Some people feel that they risk being evicted if they cause trouble, but a good owner wants to know about problems and if they try to evict you for raising a reasonable issue then this is an unlawful act with a penalty of up to $4000 - which goes to the tenant."

He said it "doesn't make good business sense" for owners to let their properties get into such a state of disrepair either.

"It is shortsighted not to spend money on repairs and maintenance, because you will often end up paying more - and the poor condition of the property means you will not be able to charge an appropriate rental price."

Andrew King.
Andrew King. Photo credit: The AM Show

He said the NZPIF can help out struggling landlords with budgeting so their houses don't end up being featured in future Reddit threads like this one.

'Far from rare'

Robert Whitaker of Renters United said cases like these are "exceptional but far from rare".

"Rental houses are in short supply in most places and renters are forced to live with a lot to keep a roof over their heads. Taking your landlord to the Tenancy Tribunal in a nuclear option for most renters, pretty much guaranteeing that your relationship with the landlord will end, so most try to stick it out and find a new place, often passing the problems on to the next set of tenants."

He said tenants should "carefully document everything", and be suspicious of landlords who don't want correspond via email, as a digital paper trail is important.

"Even if you don't intend to take any action through the Tenancy Tribunal that doesn't mean you don't need these things, as you may well need to argue your side if your landlord tries to withhold your bond when you move out."

Whitaker said renters should "expect a decent quality of home" in return for the amounts they're paying nowadays, and if they aren't getting it, there are cost-effective options available for them.

"We recommend that renters contact their local Community Law branch to talk through their situation to help decide whether they should take their landlord to the Tenancy Tribunal."

Other horror stories

  • One person's flat was so bad, MP Gareth Hughes "turned up once to have a poke around and see what living in a shitty flat is like".
  • "Earthworms coming out of a hole in the wall, ceiling covered in mould."
  • "Mushrooms growing on the bedroom ceiling. They were literally the first thing I saw when I woke up every morning."
  • "Literal waterfall from the ceiling due to holes in the roof. Landlord sent her son around to patch it up with duct tape."
  • "Hoard of feral chickens crapping everywhere."
  • "Landlord suggested that the shower was big enough for a threesome to my, my mate and his [girlfriend] as we were doing the initial inspection."
  • "Friend woke up in the middle of the night because his bed had fallen through the floor."
  • "The kitchen stayed so cold we didn't have to put the milk away."