Car damage claim sparks row
The family who left three successive Nelson rental properties under a cloud are now under the watchful eye of Housing New Zealand.
Parents Sarah and Christopher Snowsill made headlines last month after they damaged Hira woman Tineke Pauling's rental property in Stoke. The Tenancy Tribunal ordered their immediate eviction and issued a fine of $1320.
While living at Mrs Pauling's house, the couple were going through tribunal proceedings relating to a house in Songer St which resulted in fines of $7000. They have also been fined $1817 to cover unpaid rent and water damage to a house they occupied in Tahunanui during 2011.
The couple and their two young sons have lived in their HNZ property in Toi Toi for about a month.
Their home is separated from that of new neighbours Chuck Moorhouse and Sharee James-Watson by a chain link fence.
Mr Moorhouse said he habitually left his new car parked next to the fence. He said he and Ms James-Watson had not had any trouble with the four previous HNZ tenants, but tension had developed between himself and the new tenants after he noticed marks on his car on a recent Saturday.
"We didn't expect a great deal. These guys seemed nice, we didn't know a lot about them."
He said he had gone to ask Mr Snowsill to have "a word" with his children about their behaviour that afternoon, but found a new crop of marks had appeared the next day. When he returned next door to confront the family, Mr Moorhouse said Mr Snowsill became aggressive and he was "shoved off" the property.
He said the damage to his car had been estimated to cost about $2000 to fix. He had the option of claiming insurance, but would still be left out of pocket by $1000 as he would have to pay two lots of excess for the incidents.
Mr Moorhouse said police had told him they were unable to help, and he had placed a complaint with HNZ. He did not want the family kicked out but wanted HNZ to beef up the dividing fence and, if possible, reimburse him for the cost of fixing his car.
Mr Snowsill denied any damage caused and declined comment.
HNZ tenancy services regional manager Symon Leggett said HNZ had contacted both parties last week and encouraged them to meet. He said he wanted them to work together to come to a solution. The agency plans to address Mr Moorhouse's concerns about the fence.
Mr Leggett said HNZ was unwilling to speak specifically about the couple's situation or their eligibility for housing as he respected their right to privacy, but said many HNZ tenants were unable to secure private accommodation.
"We do not discriminate based on people's rental history - we are responsible for housing those most in need of a home."
Mr Leggett said the agency looked at aspects such as income and asset thresholds, housing need, current accommodation and accessibility or disability needs before making a decision on tenants. He said the agency was "like any landlord" in that it expected its tenants to respect the property they lived in and their neighbours, saying it could issue breach notices if these expectations were breached.
If the tenant's behaviour did not improve, he said HNZ could then apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for an eviction notice, but this was a "last resort".
"Our preference is to first discuss matters with all parties to try and resolve any issues."
Mr Moorhouse said today he had declined HNZ's offer of mediation and had again complained on Sunday night about further damage to his car and things thrown onto the house roof.
"I believe Housing NZ knew these people to be a problem before they put them next to us and I believe it has a moral obligation to us."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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