From TV to a tent: Family of eight evicted

JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 05:00 16/02/2012

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A woman who helped to expose a Waikato rent-to-buy scam on television is now living in a tent with her eight children.

The situation came about after she was evicted from a house owing more than $4300 in rent and leaving it "absolutely filthy".

However, Putaruru mother Lisa Ngatai, who appeared on the TV2 show My House My Castle last year, claims she is in credit with her rent payments and that the house was a "shocking mess" when she moved in to the property in 2009.

Ms Ngatai was evicted from the Charles Cr house, where she lived with her partner and eight children, on January 26, following a tenancy tribunal hearing which found she had not paid rent in over a month.

Property manager Flo Drabble, who inspected the house after the eviction, said it was so filthy that she vomited while trying to clean it.

"In all honesty it was the worst condition property I have ever been in."

The walls and floors were apparently filthy, it reeked of urine, windows were smashed, animal faeces were scattered inside and it was riddled with insects.

Miss Drabble said the house will need to be fumigated and the carpet needed replacing.

Ms Ngatai, along with her partner and children, aged three to 15, are now living in a tent in the backyard of her cousin's home in Putaruru.

"We're on mattresses and we're all crammed in together," she said.

"My kids go to school across the road from where we are and it's too embarrassing for them.

We've been pulling our hair out – fighting each other for the past week."

On February 11, 2009, Ms Ngatai and her partner, who are both beneficiaries, entered into a rent-to-buy agreement, at $336 per week, with Auckland-based property investor Mike Hyams.

The house was in the process of being renovated throughout, but Ms Ngatai needed a place to live and thought owning a home would be a good investment for the future.

She said it had no hot water or electricity, leaking pipes, no kitchen, faulty wiring and rubbish littered everywhere.

She claims to have invested thousands of dollars of her own money into maintenance of the property.

"The conditions were, [Mr Hyams] was supposed to do the house up and he didn't. We were stuck for three years fixing up electricals and plumbing."

Mr Hyams said he wiped off more than $6000 of money owed based on these allegations.

In November 2009, Ms Ngatai could no longer afford to purchase the property and it was agreed she could remain as a tenant at a weekly rental of $165. The Times was shown a tenancy agreement signed by both parties on November 6, 2009.

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As of May 12, 2011, Ms Ngatai owed $4300 in arrears, which is recorded in a tenancy tribunal application by Mr Hyams.

It was agreed Ms Ngatai would pay instalments of $50 towards the arrears and that if she failed to make payments her tenancy would be terminated.

Ms Ngatai said she was planning to appeal the order to repay the debt as soon as she had money for a lawyer. Mr Hyams, who owns over 120 properties in South Waikato, had no sympathy for Ms Ngatai's position and said she was a "troublemaker".

"If she was so unhappy, why the hell did she stay there for three years?" he said.

Ms Ngatai said it had been difficult trying to find a new home as Housing New Zealand did not have accommodation available for such a large family.

- Waikato Times

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