We're not monsters, we're not filthy pigs - ex-tenants

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 13:00 30/10/2013
tenants
MONSTERS OR MISUNDERSTOOD?: Tenants Sarah Smith and Christopher Snowsill deny their former landlord's accusations.
Tineke Pauling
MESS LEFT: Tineke Pauling surveys the toys left behind by her former tenants.

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A couple evicted from a Stoke home claim they were forced out of the house.

In an article yesterday the property owner, Tineke Pauling, said she had been sympathetic to the tenants because they had said they were victims of the Christchurch earthquake but after a Tenancy Tribunal hearing had ended up evicting them.

The Nelson Mail spoke to tenants Sarah Smith and her husband Christopher Snowsill at their new rental property in Toi Toi yesterday. They did not dispute the debt owed, but maintained Mrs Pauling lied about their conduct to the tribunal so that she could replace them with a relative.

Mrs Smith disputed the state of the home, and produced photographs of parts of the house that she said were taken before she left. The photographs showed a clean oven-top, bath, intact curtains, and floors in the bedroom and lounge with some staining visible on the carpet.

"We're not monsters, we're not filthy pigs."

She and Mr Snowsill refused to comment on two prior tribunal cases in which they were issued with fines to cover unpaid rent and various damage.

She said she and Mr Snowsill had planned to return to Mrs Pauling's house and remove the rubbish that was left at the property, but were blocked from entering once they left the premises. She said Mrs Pauling behaved abusively while the family was leaving her property, and had large quantities of their belongings thrown away.

Mrs Smith said she had been the target of threats made online and felt unfairly victimised.

Mrs Pauling denied lying to the tribunal. She said it was true she had intended to allow a cousin to stay in the house after Mrs Smith and Mr Snowsill had moved out, but it was the couple's aggressive behaviour and failure to pay rent that made her initiate proceedings to have them evicted.

She said she could not let her cousin move in immediately after Mrs Smith and Mr Snowsill left the property as it was not up to scratch, and the cousin then found somewhere else to go. Mrs Pauling has put the property on Trademe.

While she admitted she had sworn during the couple's exit, she denied abusing them directly and said Mrs Smith had been confrontational.

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Mrs Pauling said she had allowed the family longer than the tribunal had specified to move out. She said a truckload of goods from the house was thrown out after the couple left, but it was all rubbish or broken household items.

Glenn Morris, who manages several hundred properties and is secretary of the Nelson Property Investors Association, said tenancy issues such as the ones experienced by Mrs Pauling were not uncommon with lower grade properties. He said she had failed to carry out basic background checks which would have led a good property manager to turn away Mrs Smith and Mr Snowsill.

Mr Morris said it was important to always run credit checks on the Veda credit reference agency or Tenancy Information New Zealand before allowing tenants to move in. If possible, he recommended landlords speak to each tenant's previous landlord, and also search their names in the tribunal's online database.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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