It's come to this - the housing crisis in Auckland is so bad that landlords are converting garages into flats.
The illegal substandard dwellings came to light following a complaint from a tenant querying if it was legal to rent a garage as a flat.
Auckland landlord Madhav Karmarkar today was fined $60,000 for running the illegal conversions. He had turned five properties in Takapuna and Mt Roskill into 12 smaller units without obtaining resource consent.
Two of the converted units were former garages, one with low cramped ceilings, and the other still using the external garage roller door.
In sentencing Karmarkar, Environment Court Judge Jeff Smith took into consideration the deliberate nature of the offences in order to achieve financial gain.
The court also ordered the illegal units to be disestablished and the dwellings returned to their legal state by end of February 2014.
Heather Harris, Auckland Council Manager Resource Consents, said the council was sending out a clear message to landlords that non-compliant activity would not be tolerated.
Labour housing spokesperson Phil Tyford said the illegal conversion showed the extent of the housing crisis in Auckland.
"Families crammed into sleep-outs and garages are an all too common feature of the Auckland housing crisis," he said.
"In parts of West Auckland and South Auckland it can be hard to find a garage that is used for housing a car."
The fact that some landlords are taking advantage of desperate tenants was hardly surprising, Twyford said.
The Auckland housing market was broken and the problem required the Government to take bold action to create affordable housing.
- Fairfax Media