EU refusing to waive diplomatic immunity in rental stoush

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) is seeking to waive diplomatic immunity in an expensive tenancy dispute.

It's come up against a road block - the European Union.

A landlord who rented his high-end house to a diplomat says he was left "high and dry" after a diplomat walked away with $14,000 owed in rent and damage to the property.

The Tenancy Tribunal ruled landlords Matthew Ryan and Rebecca Den Bos were owed the money from tenant Eva Tvarozkova, European Union first secretary and deputy head of mission.

Diplomats are entitled to automatic diplomatic immunity from New Zealand courts.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) initially told the tribunal it should never have got involved, because Ms Tvarozkova is entitled to diplomatic immunity. The Ministry planned to appeal to the tribunal next month.

But the Ministry has clarified to Newshub it first asked the European Union to consider waiving diplomatic immunity late last month.

"We asked the EU to consider waiving immunity late last month, which was when we were first made aware about this, and we reiterated this earlier this week," an MFAT spokesperson told Newshub.

"The EU has not, at this point, waived immunity in this case."

The Ministry says it told the tribunal of automatic diplomatic immunity when it learned of the hearing. 

"In this case, the Ministry was not notified by any of the parties prior to the Tribunal's hearing," an MFAT spokesperson told Newshub.

"Once notified, in accordance with our legal obligations, the Ministry advised the Tribunal to consider the issue of immunity because at the time of the Tribunal hearing, it was unaware that diplomatic immunity was an issue.

"Once alerted to this fact, the tribunal ordered a formal hearing to consider the effect of the diplomatic immunity on the case."

The Karaka, Wellington property was being rented for $1500 a week on a fixed-term three-year lease, the Tenancy Tribunal ruling said. Ms Tvarozkova left the property after eight months.

"I thought I had the security of a three-year tenure but they left with rent arrears, they caused some damage to the property before they left, gave me no notice of leaving," Mr Ryan told NZME.

The Tribunal ruled Ms Tvarozkova owed $17,357 in rent, plus costs for damage to the property. Her $6000 of bond reduced the final amount owing to $14,314.