Kiwi landlord who rented out sinking, leaky, asbestos-ridden house ripped apart for complaining about 'disappointing' $750k capital gain

They sought advice on social media on how to get the tenants to pay "damages" for the leaky roof.
They sought advice on social media on how to get the tenants to pay "damages" for the leaky roof. Photo credit: Getty.

A sinking house with asbestos floors and leaks in the walls, roof and bath should probably never have been rented out in the first place, an advocacy group has claimed.

Yet the owner is trying to hock it off for $1 million plus, and seeking advice on social media on how to get the tenants to pay "damages".

Earlier this week Reddit user Jonty5Alive said they bought the three-bedroom Auckland rental 10 years ago for $450,000, and they're currently renting it out for $550 a week.

"With all the news of how prices are shooting up, we approached some local agents, and decided to list it," they wrote. 

But an inspection uncovered numerous issues - in addition to leaks, "half the house" is sinking into the ground thanks to a cracked concrete block foundation and the "structurally unsound" garage "doesn't seem to have been built to code".

And the kitchen tiles and floor are made of deadly asbestos. 

"When we bought 10 years ago we asked a builder mate to look around, and he didn't find these issues," wrote Jonty5Alive.

Another builder recently told them the repairs could cost as much as $300,000, and they wouldn't be able to collect rental income while the work was being done.

"The buyers are not prepared to pay for the work to be done, and would not accept a 200k discount on the offer price," Jonty5Alive wrote. 

"We also offered to let them delay settlement and allow them access to fix up the issues if they want, but they also said no to this, because the bank apparently won't lend to them."

They asked other Reddit users if they should try and sell it for a "disappointing" $1.2 million sale, which would only net them a net profit of $750,000 in capital gains.

Jonty5Alive's attitude didn't impress Renters United, a group advocating for better standards in rentals and more rights for those who live in them.

"It's not the responsibility of the tenant to find out if the building has major structural issues that might make it unsafe to live in," spokesperson Ashok Jacob told Newshub. "To be honest, this probably should never have been rented to begin with."

He said it's a symptom of a wider problem New Zealand has - that people see housing as simply a way to make money, rather than as a human right.

"Instead of being made to get a proper warrant of fitness, whoever this landlord is got a mate to come around and say it's all good. 

"I think that shows the way that we think about property in New Zealand is broken."

Jonty5Alive's post didn't go down well with other Reddit users in the /r/newzealand section. 

"When you're trying to sell your $1,400,000 house, but it's got a leaking roof, asbestos all over the kitchen, is not properly waterproofed and isn't built to code - oh and it's sinking into the ground, so you try blame the tenants to see if you can get money out of them to fix the fact that you're a negligent asshole landlord," one person wrote. 

"When you didn't get a proper pre-purchase inspection when you purchased your rental property because you're a cheap and negligent landlord so you weren't aware that it was a dangerous structurally-unsound leaky dwelling and now you'll only profit $700k from your 10 years of negligence rather than $1 million so you want to take the people who've been PAYING YOU $550 A WEEK to live in your leaky poisonous unstable shithole so they can pay you the remaining $300k you worked so hard for by kindly providing them with a leaking toxic roof over their heads so kindly all these years," said another.

Unimpressed, Jonty5Alive took their questions to a property-specific section of Reddit, r/NZProperty. There he blamed the tenants for making the property more dangerous by potentially cracking open the asbestos tiles in the kitchen.

The responses there were more polite, but made much the same points as those in /r/newzealand.

"The property is worth less than he thought it was because he never got a proper pre-purchase building inspection so hasn't realised he's been sitting on a leaky asbestos-ridden lead-painted structurally-unsound unconsented structure for the last decade," one person wrote.

"He hasn't lost value because of the tenants actions, he just never had it in the first place and the new buyers' due diligence revealed that."

Others said if he tried taking the tenants to the Tenancy Tribunal, they'd probably counter-claim for renting out a property unfit for habitation. 

"You won't get a cent from the tenants, and you have to disclose the issues to buyers. You can take them to court if you like, but I suspect the judge will give you an even bigger reality hit than the comments here," one person advised.

Andrew King, executive officer of the NZ Property Investors' Federation (NZPIF), told Newshub the landlord "should have done regular inspections and looked after their property".

"The NZPIF has developed an online education course for self managers to show them good practice to avoid such issues."