Queenstown tenants are 'happy as' despite fence in front of garage, says landlord
The landlord who built a wooden fence blocking his rental home's garage door has explained why – and lowered his tenants' rent.
Sean McCarroll says his Queenstown tenants are "happy as" after a phone call to them on Monday afternoon. The garage would become a fifth bedroom, he said.
When Beck Cole and Deo Bohn first signed a lease to rent the Shotover Country home, they did not know the garage would not be vehicle friendly and that a fence would be put in front of it, he said.
The couple said they were then stumped to find the fence when they moved in, and had hoped for some form of compensation on their rent.
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McCarroll says it has been discussed, and he has lowered their rent. He is now waiting for the builders to complete the conversion for the couple's use.
"They thought they could use it and then a week later I said the garage is not going to be able to be used," he said.
McCarroll found issues with the driveway being too steep after a light pole prevented the garage door from being put in its intended spot. He informed Cole and Bohn it would be turned into a fifth bedroom. "They agreed," he said.
The couple loved the house and were happy to have somewhere to rent in Queenstown, McCarroll said.
"As long as they are happy and comfortable, that's the main thing."
'A BIT BIZARRE'
Bohn and Cole moved into the Risinghurst Tce, Shotover Country, house on June 28 and said they were surprised at the wooden fence.
Cole said they thought "the driveway was pretty steep" when they rented it.
"We were told a few weeks later that it would no longer be able to be used as a garage. Then he [the landlord] decided to put the fence up which was a bit bizarre.
"He said he was going to put it up as a bit of privacy but the fence is serving absolutely no purpose. I hoped we would get some compensation."
The couple, who own newly-opened music store Maya Music at Remarkables Park, have four older children, three of whom were hoping to use the garage to house their motorbikes.
Cole even bought a new car when they moved to Queenstown from Invercargill and it now had to sit outside.
Despite this, the pair thought the landlord was "lovely" and said it was probably not his fault.
"I"m sure he's not super happy about it either."
DRIVEWAY 'TOO STEEP'
The contractor who built the fence, who preferred not to be named, said the garage door was supposed to be on the end of the home with access off an adjoining road but a light post prevented it being put there.
"We went in to do the driveway and that [but] the driveway was too steep."
The owner decided he would turn the garage into a self-contained unit and asked for the fence to be built the way it is, the contractor said.
He felt the tenants, Bohn and Cole, knew the fence was going to be there and that they would not have access to the garage "from the start".
But Bohn said they did not know they wouldn't be able to use the garage until after they moved in.
"We asked him [the landlord] to put a fence on but we didn't know it was going to be in front of the garage," he said. "After we got in he said we weren't going to have the garage."
Queenstown lawyer Graeme Todd said the owner of the property could put a fence wherever he wanted and there was "no issue about that" but there may be issues between owner and tenant if it was marketed as a home with a double garage.
It implied the garage was still usable for vehicles, Todd said.
Queenstown Lakes District Council spokesman Jimmy Sygrove confirmed they had been in touch with the property owner around consenting issues.
Sygrove could not elaborate.
A Tenancy Services spokeswoman said the first thing Cole and Bohn needed to do was take the issue up with the landlord.
If the two parties could not agree on lower rent and Cole and Bohn felt the premises was misrepresented to them prior to entering into the agreement, they could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to determine the appropriate amount of compensation or possibly cancel the agreement.
Letting agent Ray White Queenstown was contacted.