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Metropolis Apartments: Auckland tenant awarded $2000 after attempt to evict him ruled unlawful

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The Tenancy Tribunal has found a tenant was unlawfully evicted from Auckland’s Metropolis apartments and awarded $2000 in exemplary damages.

A tenant accused of drug use says he felt forced from a swanky Auckland apartment building, despite methamphetamine testing revealing no presence of the drug.

Now the property manager who, according to a Tenancy Tribunal decision, felt pressured by the Metropolis apartments’ body corporate to evict the tenant, has been ordered to pay $2000 in damages.

But Metropolis has fired back in a statement saying the body corporate wasn’t aware of the tribunal case and denied pressuring the landlord or tenant.

According to the tribunal’s decision the tenant was living in the apartments when the landlord – property management firm Nid Renters Limited – emailed giving 28 days-notice.

The firm also indicated they would be filing a claim with the tribunal for commercial cleaning and the costs of methamphetamine testing.

Before the email, the tribunal’s decision said the building’s body corporate alleged the tenant breached their rules by consuming illegal drugs in their apartment.

It cited body corporate employees smelling cannabis and said a drug dog “indicated” in the vicinity of the tenant’s apartment. The tribunal said it did not receive any direct evidence of this happening.

The landlord then undertook methamphetamine testing, which was negative.

A tenant who was living in the Metropolis apartments' has been awarded $2000 in exemplary damages after the Tenancy Tribunal found his landlord's attempts to terminate the tenancy were unlawful.
A tenant who was living in the Metropolis apartments’ has been awarded $2000 in exemplary damages after the Tenancy Tribunal found his landlord’s attempts to terminate the tenancy were unlawful.

But, according to a recently released tribunal decision, the body corporate wasn’t satisfied with the results “and appears to have put pressure on the landlord to terminate the tenancy”.

The tenant initially resisted the landlord’s letter, but the decision says after repeatedly being accused of drug use and the efforts to terminate the tenancy, he felt insecure, and finally moved out. The tenancy terminated in June 2023.

The landlord sought costs from the tribunal for commercial cleaning, methamphetamine testing and water rates.

The tribunal dismissed the cleaning and testing costs, finding that the apartment was “reasonably clean and tidy” and “there was insufficient evidence to find the tenant had used the premises for unlawful activity”.

The tenant then sought compensation from the landlord for attempting to terminate the tenancy without grounds.

Nid Renters told the tribunal it was in a difficult position because the body corporate didn’t accept the results of the methamphetamine testing.

“While I have some sympathy for the landlord, who was caught between the body corporate and the tenant, the fact remains that landlords have obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) to their tenants, and tenancies can only be terminated in accordance with the RTA,” the tribunal said in its decision.

It found the landlord acted unlawfully when it attempted to terminate the tenancy and in doing so acted intentionally.

“Such a blatant breach cannot be seen as inadvertent,” the tribunal ruled.

It awarded the tenant $2000 in exemplary damages.

Metropolis Facilities Manager Adam Davis said the landlord was notified after two positive identifications by drug detector dogs near the apartment – which were carried out in accordance with the building’s body corporate rules.

He said staff never stated the presence of methamphetamine specifically and the landlord was made aware of that. He said Metropolis wasn’t privy to the communication between the tenant and the landlord until it was advised that the tenant had given notice.

“At no point did we communicate and/or pressurise the manager or tenant in relation to this matter,” Davis said.

Catherine Hutton is an Open Justice reporter, based in Wellington. She has worked as a journalist for 20 years, including at the Waikato Times and RNZ. Most recently she was working as a media advisor at the Ministry of Justice.

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