A "horrified" renter was evicted from her Auckland home of almost ten years for trespassing her landlord's handyman friend for entering her bedroom without consent.
The 37-year-old renter, who wished to remain anonymous, told Newshub she was forced to take her landlord to the Tenancy Tribunal in December after he gave her notice to leave.
The woman was renting one of three flats in Otahuhu, Auckland, when her bathroom needed to be refurbished in November 2019.
The landlord, who lived in one of the adjoining flats, enlisted the help of his tradesman friend who had done work around the properties for the last twenty years.
Because the water in the flat was temporarily disconnected, the woman left for a few days when her security camera caught him entering her bedroom.
The tenant trespassed the tradesman but he re-entered the property. When the woman brought it up with her landlord he moved to evict her after eight-and-a-half years at the property.
"My landlord said that he had known the guy for 35 years and I was forcing my landlord to choose between us, so he gave me just under 90 days’ notice to move out - and also gave me notice of a rent increase. Rent would be more-than-tripled."
The tenant said she was "was surprised, even horrified" that she was being evicted as she had been nothing but a good tenant and given the handyman's "invasive" actions.
She said she had always had reservations about the character of the handyman but had allowed him to carry out the work as the landlord had insisted.
"I mentioned to my landlord years ago that I thought the guy was a bit off," she said.
"The handyman was around the property, as he so often was, not inside my flat though, and I walked out my front door with a bag of rubbish to take to the wheelie bin. And he called out from behind me, "Aren't you a good little girl doing chores." I turned around and looked at him and said "what?" And he actually repeated it."
She said while previous interactions had left her "uncomfortable", they had never been bad enough to do anything about.
Her concerns about the man led her to set up the security camera in her bedroom but she never expected him to go in.
At the court hearing, which both the landlord and tenant attended, the tradesman claimed he went into the room to look out the window.
"He had heard some ducks quacking excitedly and he wondered what was chasing them," he claimed, according to the Tribunal decision.
But the tenant told Newshub she wasn't sure about that explanation.
"I saw a photo flash up on my cell phone of him a few seconds after walking in. It is hard to say for sure what he is doing."
She said while he was in her room, "He was looking very much down and happened to be standing right in front of my dirty laundry basket. He wasn't standing by the window."
The renter said she called on professional advice and decided to trespass the man from her property. "I thought it was only reasonable, I wanted him out of my home," she said.
She called issued him a verbal trespass over a phone call, he said he accepted the trespass notice and left the property.
In the tribunal hearing, the landlord said that the tenant had never stated the handyman could not enter her bedroom. There were no exclusions of "where we could go".
He branded the tenant's response as "ridiculous" and opted to stick by his friend rather than his longterm tenant.
In a recorded telephone call the landlord is heard threatening to evict the tenant. "If [the tradesman] isn’t allowed back in the flat...I will give you notice," he said. The tenant chose to stick by her decision.
On November 12 the landlord gave the tenant a notice ending the tenancy on February 9th 2020.
He claimed in court that he gave the tenant notice because she had been abusive to him although the court found "no sense that any abusiveness was at a level that would have made it the only reason for issuing a notice to quit."
The tenant told Newshub "I had recorded my phone conversations with the landlord and was able to prove he was lying."
The tenancy tribunal ruled with the tenant that the notice was given in retaliation.
The landlord was ordered to pay exemplary damages of $1000, a quarter of the maximum payment, along with $500 for emotional harm.
The tenant has now moved to Waikato.