Invalid denies smoking inside

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 26/07/2012

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A 60-year-old invalid on ACC is being kicked out of his Invercargill home for something he says he did not do.

Murray Amos, who is dependent on home help and cannot walk without support, has been told to leave his Isabella St house by property managers Hot Group, after an inspector said he had smoked inside, something he denies.

Mr Amos's landlord, Rex Beech, employed Hot Group to manage the house for him, but Mr Amos said he had not been told about it.

A Hot Group property manager came to the house last week, shortly after Mr Amos, an ordained minister and church volunteer, said he had stubbed out a cigarette on his ash tin, which he had taken inside.

The woman had smelled tobacco smoke and asked him where it was coming from, he said.

When he told her he had just finished a cigarette, the woman said he would be evicted.

"It was one hit and you're out," Mr Amos said.

All Hot Group leases had a no-smoking clause, she said.

However, Mr Amos said he had never seen a Hot Group lease.

Days later, on Mr Amos's 60th birthday, he got a letter telling him he would be evicted. It did not give reasons for the eviction.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act (1986) reasons do not have to be given for an eviction with more than 90 days' notice.

Mr Beech told him Hot Group said he had sworn at the woman and thrown his crutch at her, Mr Amos said.

He denied he had sworn at the woman, or acted in a threatening manner. The crutch was not thrown, but knocked over as he sat down, he said.

"I might have said I was p..... off. But that's not me. If I came over like that, it's because I was really upset. If I appeared that way, I'm terribly sorry."

Mr Amos said he had fused vertebrae in his lower back, plates on both sides of his neck and five dislocated discs in his back.

He requires morphine to manage the pain and rarely leaves his home, receiving home help five days a week.

He has lived at the Isabella St house since 2002. He said the landlord knew he was a smoker.

He occasionally smoked or finished a cigarette inside the house, but more often smoked on the back step, he said.

He did not have a problem being told not to smoke inside, he said, but he felt it was unfair to evict him for one incident.

"Back in 2002 you weren't asked [about smoking]," he said. "It's not the issue. If she'd said all smoking had to be done on the doorstep, it's not a problem."

Mr Beech had not given him a contract when he moved into the house and he had not seen one from Hot Group since it took over management, he said.

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He now has 90 days to find another house.

Hot Group said landlords had the right to terminate a contract without a reason with 90 days' notice.

Southland regional manager Des Flowers did not comment further.

Mr Beech also refused to comment.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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