Wellington landlord loses tribunal case alleging tenant was operating a brothel

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A tenant who was operating a brothel out of a Wellington property has escaped paying compensation to her landlord.

The landlord of the Mt Cook property, Earle Properties Ltd, claimed the tenant, Jo (Kelly) Lien, used the premises unlawfully by running a brothel out of it, a tribunal decision says.

Damage caused during the tenancy included three sets of ripped, mouldy curtains, and burn marks on the kitchen bench.

The decision says the landlord should be returned to the position they would have been had the tenant not breached the obligations.

However, since the introduction of the Prostitution Reform Act in 2003, brothels are permitted to operate anywhere, as long as they comply with local district plan bylaws.

The Wellington City Council's criteria for "work from home activities" do not require resource consent.

The adjudicator said there was insufficient evidence to establish the brothel was unlawful.

"Furthermore, there was no evidence that the brothel was being run illegally such that any steps have been taken to prosecute the tenant," the decision says.

"Accordingly, I cannot find that the tenant running a brothel amounts to using the premises 'for an unlawful purpose' and the claim for exemplary damages on that basis must be dismissed."

The landlord however was awarded $1700 as the tenant had more people staying at the home than stated in the tenancy agreement. She also had to cough up for further rubbish removal, cleaning and pest control.