Keeping The Peace
A ruling around harassment and quiet enjoyment should set a clear precedent on landlords’ rights with regard to entering a property.
1 April 2022
A breach of quiet enjoyment and unlawful entry has landed Auckland landlord Don Webb with a significant fine at a tribunal ruling in Auckland’s North Shore.
The tenant, Christine Thompson, was living alone in a property next to Webb in the rural district of Dairy Flat when the breaches occurred. She testified that she didn’t feel safe in the premises, due to Webb regularly shouting at her (the first time three weeks into the tenancy, when he told her to “clean up her stuff”, and another occasion when she tried to stop a cow from eating her plants). She claims that these, and other incidents, led her to feeling harassed.
She also states that the landlord used his key to open her door, waking her while she was asleep. Additionally, he unlocked her door to give notice of a rent increase; and entered the property without consent when there was an issue with a water pump.
While Webb denies the accusation of harassment, he admits to using his key to enter the property. Adjudicator L Wright notes that the landlord intentionally and repeatedly entered the property illegally, in a manner that worried and distressed the tenant, and found that he had “breached the tenant’s quiet enjoyment
of the premises”.
She continued that “[t]here is a strong public interest in ensuring that tenants are able to feel safe in their homes without fear of intrusion by the landlord”.
Thompson also sought compensation for other matters, including carpet cleaning that she was unlawfully forced to undertake after ending the tenancy, an unfair charge for a broken window, a rent rise and electricity charges. The tribunal found in favour of the tenant with regard to the carpet cleaning and broken glass, but the other matters weren’t deemed to have breached any tenancy laws.
The full amount paid by Webb was $954.24, which included $500 for breach of quiet enjoyment and unlawful entry. ■