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$250 fine for tenant who caused $6,000 in damage

By Steven Cross
24 January 2014 | 9 minute read

A retired self-managing landlord has endured a two-year ordeal for justice after his tenants destroyed his investment property – and were fined just $250.

After falling behind on rent and refusing entry for inspection, the unnamed landlord claimed his patience had worn thin.

“I needed to fit an RCD as per legislation, and when I requested a time for the electrician to come around they texted me claiming that if anyone went near the property they would call the police and have me jailed,” he told Residential Property Manager.

However, after serving the eviction notice the landlord said the tenants still refused to leave.

“I had to go through hearings and proceedings, and when I eventually got round to doing the final inspection, the place was an absolute shambles,” he said.

According to the commissioner for consumer protection Anne Driscoll, tenants have to keep a rental home tidy and clean and hand it back in a similar condition to when the rental agreement began.

“In this case, the property was left in a dirty and unsatisfactory condition – the carpets were ruined with pet faeces and urine,” Ms Driscoll said.

“The repairs cost nearly $6,000 and the bond only covered about $1,600, leaving the owners about $4,300 out of pocket. They were unable to contact Ms Hutchins to seek redress because she had failed to leave her former landlord a forwarding address, which exiting tenants are required to do under the Residential Tenancies Act.”

After the Department of Commerce tracked down the sibling tenants, the landlord claims things moved swiftly.

“I take my hat off to them, they did a great job of tracking them down and bringing them before the court,” he said.

However, after pleading guilty, the tenants were fined just $250 and ordered to pay costs of $702.63.

“I guess the fine is a little bit on the soft side,” the landlord admited, “but it’s more about sending the message that you just can’t do these sorts of things.”

As the owner of numerous investment properties, the landlord claimed he had the time and patience to work with tenants.

“I’ve never really needed to have a property manager, and I’ve never had any real problems up until this point. The tenants were fine at first, but something obviously happened and everything seemed to change,” he said.


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