Monday, August 16, 2010

Tenancy Matters with Housing New Zealand and Tenancy Services

Some 9 or so years ago our family ran in to some strife and needed to move house pretty quickly. We were lucky at the time to be offered and able to move in to a government owned house managed by Housing New Zealand. The first winter came and we had issues with excess condensation and moisture that appears to have been partly caused by the lack of insulation in the house as well as water ponding under the house. On the walls and the roof there is a mold that grows as well as a rotten smell under the house.
We brought this to the attention of Housing NZ who i will refer to in the future as HNZ some 7 years ago and after promises to have the matter remedied nothing to date has been done other than frequent visits from contractors stating what should be done to resolve the problem.

Out of frustration we decided to finally lodge a complaint with the arm of the courts who are responsible for hearing tenancy matters "Tenancy Tribunal" who essentially first try to mediate the matter then hear the case in court and make the appropriate orders that can then be enforced.

The mediation was a waste of time in that the representative from HNZ claims she had no idea as to what they were there for despite having been given a 10 day notice to remedy the faults with the house. Once mediation has failed the next step is to hand the matter up to an arbitrator. This was done and a hearing date was set.

During the arbitration process both my wife and I were concerned that the arbitrator denied us the ability to enter in to evidence the recorded conversations between HNZ and ourselves showing that there indeed was an issue and that we had notified HNZ of these issues including a leaking/problematic toilet that we replaced at our own cost as HNZ did not remedy the problem in a timely manner.

Later during the hearing the representative from HNZ claimed while under oath that the leaking windows and rotten wood in the window sills had been repaired however this was not the case and she well knew it as at her last visit just prior to the hearing she poked her finger through the rot in the wood in the master bedroom.

HNZ stated that the bathroom and bedrooms were to be remodeled and this would take care of any remaining rot, mold and dampness problems in the bedrooms.

We were accused by HNZ of denying access to contractors and allowing them to complete their job however according to the contractor this is not the case and he declined to do the job as the window frame that had fallen apart if repaired in the manner he was instructed to would have posed a danger to my son who sleeps below it and who was previously almost severely injured when the frame fell apart while opening it.

The Adjudicator created an interim order on the matter and although we compromised on several points we were happy to at least make some headway however over the coming and allocated 6 weeks the primary problems were not dealt with or resolved.

A second hearing took place that was supposed to result in finalising the matters and enforcement orders being drawn up for work that had not been completed however we also had to bring to the attention of the courts matters whereas HNZ had sent contractors to the property without notifying us and these contractors committed  not only theft but damaged property that belonged to us.
In addition as the flooding under the house had not been repaired we enlisted the assistance of an independent building inspector to provide a report of the problem and make a suggestion as to cause and repair. This seems to have been ignored by the adjudicator.

One of the contractors who were to repair leaks and problems with the roof snapped off a 2.1m mast, removed a satellite mast and spilt cement on the roof of both of our vehicles. Regardless of us providing photos of the damage the adjudicator plays this down and he claims we did not attempt to wash the vehicle despite having been told we did on one vehicle but can’t do this to the other one. Regardless he dismisses any compensation for this damage.

At the close of the second hearing the Adjudicator said his ruling would follow however after a month of waiting nothing had been provided to us. We contacted the principal tenancy adjudicator to find out what the delay was and if this was normal then two weeks after this we received the ruling. It clearly appears that the adjudicator has ignored all evidence provided by us and has not made his ruling in an impartial manner. His ruling contradicts what was stated in court regarding contractors having to give notice before work is done and to be honest regardless of the spelling and grammatical errors in the document it seems that the ruling is a little one sided and more of an attack on me personally.

Most of our requests have been dismissed and the promise in court that the bedrooms would be remodeled has  been dropped leaving us with mold and mildew build-up and the rot in the visible woodwork is only to be scraped out then bogged and painted over. In my sons room this has previously been done only a year or so ago and the bog is now rotting. The windows still do not close because the frames are badly warped and instead of putting drainage under the house they intend on just filling the holes with dirt regardless of being told by their own contractors that this is unlikely to solve the problem and having been given the independent report we paid for.

In order to have under the house fixed we needed to more all our personal belongings out and have had to store them outside, the adjudicator states that we could store it in the shed as that is what HNZ have suggested but there is no space in there.

To add insult to injury he makes specific reference to the fact we have declined access to contractors to fix the problems despite having been given evidence to show we did not deny access and being told this during the hearing.

Our faith in the New Zealand legal system , fairness and equality has really gone out the window with this matter. We have been told we have the right to appeal but honestly would you? The fact is after 7 years of trying to get some resolve, promises and abuse from HNZ’s tenancy managers and their dirty tactics we are fed up. If we had another option we would grab it with both hands but as a low income family we do not and have to deal with the what is feed to us.

We have even tried to take this matter to a ministerial level and despite promises that something would be done just get to see a lot of buck passing and no action. HNZ sent a response to the minister’s office stating that we denied access and we sent back a response and evidence showing this was not the case however nothing is being done. The HNZ representatives were free to commit at least 2 counts of what i consider to be perjury and have not been held accountable for this either by their bosses or the courts yet is it were you or I who did this we would be in deep trouble.

Attached are some of the documents and evidence presented including photos of the damage to vehicles, flooding and other supporting evidence.

Statement outlining problems to Tennancey Tribunal
This was our accompanying document to the Tennacey Tribunal outlining the problems with the house and requesting HNZ remidy them. This also highlights the vindictive nature of the tennancey manager.
Refreance Photos for the above statement

Interum Orders from Tennancey Tribunal to be carried out within 6 weeks
The interum orders were put in place however only some of the work was done.

Statement for Continuance
Statement for continuance and highliting/clarifiying issues as well as informing the tribunal of the damage caused by contractors.

Final Order from Tennancey Tribunal
It appears that much of the evidence we provided has been ignored by the adjudicator such as photos of the damage to the car where cement was spilled in it, we stated in court that one of the cars had been washed. Also that in our view HNZ commited Purgery and we later provided a transcript from the HNZ contractor stating that we did not deny access to the property.

It is hard not to take the comments made by the Adjudicator personally and I find the tone somewhat unprofessional for an officer of the New Zealand Court.

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