It is now a familiar scene for landlord Matt Hareb.
Damage at two of his rental properties includes blocked, overflowing toilets, smashed walls and broken windows, damaged kitchens, stained carpets, discarded clothing, and fire pits on the front lawn.
The mess will cost Hareb, an earth moving contractor who owns 20 rental properties around Taranaki, more than $20,000 to repair.
His grandparents had rentals, and he decided to move into the business to give himself something to fall back on.
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But now he is not so sure, and says landlords have fewer rights to evict troublesome tenants than ever before.
In the past month he has to evict tenants from three rental properties in Waitara for excessive damage and bad behaviour.
A tour by Stuff of two of those properties revealed the damage caused by the respective tenants – a solo mother with two teenagers, and a group of 2-3 adults.
In the first property, discarded clothing, shoes and whiteware were dumped both inside and out.
A fire pit on the front lawn showed where the tenants had burnt rubbish, while deep tyre marks in the large open space was evidence of cars doing “wheelies”.
Inside walls were smashed, cupboards doors were torn off hinges, and carpets stained.
The toilet was blocked, but that had not deterred the tenants from using it until it overflowed with human waste, Hareb said.
In the second property the scene of destruction was much the same – apart from a pile of rabbit droppings in one bedroom, and attempted efforts to repair holes in smashed-in walls.
Both properties had been extensively renovated 18 months ago with new carpets, kitchens and bathrooms before being rented out, Hareb said.
The repairs will set him back more than $10,000 per property, with little chance of insurance paying out, he said.
Mortgages, rates and insurance premiums will still need to be paid while the properties are untenanted.
“People go on about landlords charging high rents and not offering quality rentals, but I’m sick of landlords getting a bad name,” he said.
“We work our butts off to make our properties liveable and this is the result.”
Hareb said in spite of screening, tenants tell lies, use drugs, and get friends to write references for them.
“It’s very hard to screen them when they come up with sad stories.”
Hareb issued a 14-day notice to one group oftenants within three months of them moving in.
“We were getting to the point of eviction when Covid-19 struck and we had to wait until it was over to issue a 90-day eviction notice,” he said.
“Work and Income NZ (WINZ) begged me to have them back but I said no way.”
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, if tenants, carelessly damage a rental property, they are liable for up to four weeks’ rent, or the landlord’s insurance excess, whichever is lower.
Under tenancy regulations, landlords must give a good reason to evict.
Damage to property is not enough on its own, Hareb said.
“It goes to the tenancy tribunal and you need a good reason to evict them.
“For damage to the property the tenant can always claim general wear and tear was the cause.
“The tribunal can demand minimum payment of $5 a week but you will be lucky if you get half of it before they disappear.”