Homeless family of seven pitch tent in Nelson

MICHELLE SUTTON
Last updated 13:14 25/09/2012
homeless family
MARTIN DE RUYTER/Fairfax NZ
LOOKING FOR RENTAL: Michael Haskett, Dallas Pengelly and Dee Heenan are living on the front lawn of a property in Richmond after the owners responded to their pleas for somewhere to pitch their tents.

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A family of seven is living in a tent because, they say, they are unable to find anywhere else to rent in Nelson.

Michael Haskett, 32, and partner Dallas Pengelly, 27, her 2-year-old daughter, Pengelly's mother Dee Heenan, 48, and her three grandsons have been living in a tent since Saturday.

The family of seven refuse to be split up and made a public plea on Facebook, asking for somewhere to pitch their tent because they have been unable to find a rental property before they had to be out of their Stoke rental home earlier this month as it was being sold.

Since Saturday they have pitched their tent on the front lawn of a Richmond property when the property owners, who knew Pengelly, offered their fenced front section.

When Haskett contacted the Nelson Mail yesterday from their tent, he said he was unsure what else to do. They had promised to be off the Richmond section within two weeks.

"We're willing to look at anything," he said.

"We don't expect to get something for nothing, but things can't get any worse.

"At the moment the pressure's on. Ideally we need to find something in Stoke that has at least four bedrooms with a fenced section for the kids and dog to run around."

Haskett said they had looked at camping ground prices, which ranged from $500 to $600 a week, before pitching their tent in Richmond, but they were too expensive and too far away from the children's Stoke school.

Property manager Glenn Morris, of Glenn's Vacancies, said larger rental homes were harder to find in Nelson, but they were around.

There was more competition for larger homes and it was common nowadays for couples and friends to group together to rent a larger property, reducing the rent.

However, more people often came with more vehicles and more hassle, which caused prices to increase, Morris said.

He had one four-bedroom property in Nelson, and Trade Me had three in Stoke.

Haskett said he was unsure why they had been turned down by landlords and real estate agents for a handful of properties in the past two weeks. They were willing and able to pay rent of up to $440 a week.

The three adults earned a combined income of $1000 a week - Heenan was a student, on a benefit and had a part-time job while Pengelly was also on a benefit after giving up her job at Countdown because the stress of finding a home became too much, while Haskett was a stay-at-home dad.

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Their combined income meant they were ineligible for a Housing New Zealand house, but were unable to find a private rented property, Haskett said.

* Comments on this story are closed.

- Nelson

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