Quake building owners accused of illegal renting

8:37 pm on 7 March 2017

The owners of a demolished Wellington high-rise building will face the Tenancy Tribunal, accused of unlawfully renting out parts of it.

The 10-storey office block at 61 Molesworth Street was torn down after it was damaged in the November earthquake.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, it was revealed people had been living on the first floor of the commercial building, owned by Prime Property Group.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) investigated and has submitted an application to the Tenancy Tribunal.

The manager of its investigations team, Steve Watson, said it found the family had been using kitchens as bedrooms, a toilet in a corridor and a shower on the ground floor.

"While there was no written tenancy agreement in place, both parties have stated that $300 rent was paid per week for the tenancy," he said.

MBIE said it wanted Prime Property Group to repay the $6000 worth of rent paid by the tenants since June, and pay damages of $1000.

"[We also seek] an order preventing Prime Property Group from committing an unlawful act of the same kind for the full six years available under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986."

However, the company's chief executive, Eyal Aharoni, said he did not believe it acted unlawfully.

He told Checkpoint with John Campbell the family chose to stay and the company was just trying to help them.

"It is up to them to decide whether it is satisfactory or not, the rent was very modest and the situation [has been] highly exaggerated.

"You would be hard pressed to find a warmer, dryer, safer home," Mr Aharoni said.

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