Property manager allegedly told illegal tenant to lie to council

Property manager allegedly told illegal tenant to lie to council

A tenant has told Newshub she was asked to lie to council inspectors about the unconsented garage rental that she pays more than $400 a week for.

The property was let through self-described property manager Debbie Inskandar – a woman at the centre of a Newshub investigation into illegal garage rentals.

The converted garage, with its makeshift kitchen and unconsented bathroom is rented for $450 a week to a woman and her seriously ill partner.

"He's on the verge of dialysis. He is on pre-dialysis at the moment, stage five kidney failure," the tenant explained.

After a Newshub investigation revealed Ms Iskandar had been renting out illegal garage conversions, Auckland Council planned to inspect this one.

The tenants said there was a makeshift unconsented kitchen there, but it was ripped out by builders sent by Ms Iskandar hours before the inspection.

"The day that the guy came to pull the whole kitchen out he said, 'Oh nah, it is the whole kitchen,' because the council was coming at 2pm that day," she said.

There are pieces of the kitchen still in the back shed.

"She told me to tell the council that we were actually staying in the main house and not residing here," the tenant said.

However, she refused.

"I told the council I was staying here. It is only fair because I am paying $450 for a property. I should speak up about it because it is lot of money," she said.

Ms Iskandar has now given her a 90-day eviction notice, but is still charging her rent for the garage, with its unconsented bathroom and without its makeshift kitchen.

"Enough is enough. I can't take this on and look after my partner. Enough is enough, the rent is too high and my partner is just not well. He is not well at all. I can't do this anymore," she said.

While she was telling her story, the property owner, Waikato police Inspector Frank Grant, sent a message via the tenant in the main house. He wanted Newshub gone, even though the woman has a tenancy agreement for the garage and we're there at her invitation.

The owner has since told Newshub he didn't know other tenants had been moved into his garage conversion and he was unaware Ms Iskandar was charging them $450 a week. He says he'll now talk to them about dropping that rent and intends to help them find a new home.

Meanwhile, Work and Income, which directed some clients to Ms Iskandar for accommodation, is now proactively contacting them to see how it can help.

Newshub is aware of one tenant who has shifted out of an Iskandar garage into temporary accommodation with Work and Income's help.

But the Salvation Army believes the problem is people desperate for state houses are purposely being put off applying for one.

"I think what we've seen really is the ways of discouraging or deterring applications, and on that basis, the application list or waiting list is being kept quite low," the Salvation Army's Alan Johnson said.

Work and Income categorically denies that and says a recent increase in waiting list numbers proves it's wrong.

Meanwhile, Auckland Council says it's continuing to investigate unconsented garage conversions.