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A real estate agent who entered a Whangarei rental to tidy up without the tenants' consent has landed the property owner a fine.
On January 23, Susan Agnew informed the house's tenants that she was putting the property on the market.
On the same day, the real estate agent selling the property, Zoltan Waxman, contacted tenant Tylah Reihana asking if he could take a photographer through to get some photos.
Reihana replied saying she would like time to tidy the house first, suggesting the following week would suit better.
Waxman replied saying he would confirm with the photographer.
The following Monday he sent a text to Reihana saying the photographer was free Wednesday and he had a key to get in.
Reihana did not receive this message. When she and the other tenant Dillon Wihongi returned from work on Wednesday, they found their bed and both their childrens' beds had been made, and some personal items had been moved around.
Waxman's business card was on the bench.
At the Tenancy Tribunal hearing, Waxman said after he sent the text and received no reply, he assumed the tenants had no problem with the date and the photographer coming through.
According to the Residential Tenancies Act, the landlord or anyone acting on their behalf must have consent from tenants before they can lawfully enter the premises.
Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator N Blake said because Reihana did not receive the text and therefore did not consent to Waxman entering the property, his actions were unlawful and damages of up to $1000 could be awarded.
The Tribunal also agreed with the tenants on another issue later in the month when Waxman asked to show a few investors the house.
Reihana agreed but said she later discovered the viewing was more like an open home with a number of people shown through.
Waxman acknowledged that in addition to the investors he had also opened the home to a few local buyers who were interested in the property.
In his summary, Blake said there had been a breach of legal duty both with the unlawful entry and the house viewing.
"The tenants' consent to an entry on 11 February was based on the understanding that it was limited to several out-of-town investors. They did not consent to an 'open home' for other interested parties," Blake said.
Susan Agnew agreed to waive the remaining rent payments due after February 22.
Waxman said he had personally reimbursed this cost to the landlord, and that it was the equivalent of three weeks' rent or $1,095.00.
Agnew was also ordered to pay Reihana and Wihongi $365.00 as compensation for breach of peace, comfort and privacy.