Tenant falls behind in rent payments. Landlord makes tenant walk the stairs to apartment. Tenancy tribunal calls harassment, fines landlord $5,800.

Missed rent payments, infuriate property owners and managers. But you’ve got to stick to the letter of the law to find a remedy, or things will get costly.

This Auckland central city landlord found out the hard way.

After his tenant was $2,970 behind in rent, the landlord cancelled the tenant’s electronic lift key, forcing him to climb the stairs to his 20th floor apartment in the City Gardens building.

When the landlord took his claim to the Tenancy Tribunal late last year, the tenant countered, pointing out that the landlord had failed to instal heating to meet healthy homes standards.

However, the tribunal later determined that the landlord’s bigger sin was cancelling the tenant’s electronic lift key.

Adjudicator Jack Tam wrote in his decision that the landlord had intentionally interfered with the reasonable peace and comfort of the tenant in his use of the premises in circumstances that amount to harassment.

The landlord was stung for a total of $2,800: $1,500 for harassment and $1,300 for altering the locks.

But that’s not all.

Still tormented by the rent arrears, the landlord texted the tenant telling them that they had four days to move out.

At a later hearing, Tam wrote that the landlord had no grounds to terminate the tenancy, let alone by text. Another $3,000 thank you very much.

However, Tam determined that the outstanding rent amount could be deducted from the total fines, resulting in a $2,830 payment to the tenant.


Stay current with your obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act. Call our property management team on 0800 GOODWINS to get up to speed.