A tenant who was $8500 behind in rent hung up on the Tenancy Tribunal when it called to invite him to a hearing.
The tribunal has now ordered that tenant Jimmy Hunt must pay his landlord $8511 immediately, for rent owed on the property made unliveable through methamphetamine contamination.
Levels found subsequently in the Featherston property were so dangerously high, the tribunal also ordered an immediate termination of the tenancy.
The landlord sought a return of the premises on the basis that the rent was significantly in arrears, and contaminated by methamphetamine, the tribunal said in its recently released decision.
A telephone hearing was held on February 28 and while the landlord attended, Hunt’s absence prompted the tribunal to call him.
“I telephoned Mr Hunt who answered the phone. After identifying myself and the reason for the call [being a hearing], Mr Hunt advised he was driving and hung up,” said tribunal judicial officer Rex Woodhouse in his decision.
He was satisfied Hunt had been advised of the hearing, so proceeded with the landlord’s application.
A rent ledger confirmed the amount in arrears, and a 14-day notice given to the tenant in September last year, which the tenant failed to comply with.
A methamphetamine test carried out on the house as the landlord prepared it for sale in January showed excessively high levels in the lounge.
Testing showed 67 micrograms of methamphetamine per 100 square centimetres. A property is considered contaminated when meth is present at levels over 1.5 micrograms per 100 square centimetres.
A property that tests below 15 micrograms per 100 square centimetres is considered safe to live in.
“As it relates to this case, eight areas in the premises have been sampled for methamphetamine, and all samples are above the New Zealand Standard level.”
The tribunal said there was “no doubt” that the premises were significantly methamphetamine contaminated and required decontamination.
“I find that the premises are uninhabitable, and a termination must be ordered under section 59 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986.
“In the circumstances, and given the levels of methamphetamine detected, it is reasonable to order that termination be immediate,” the tribunal said.
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