Largest fine for Waitakere landlord

Monday 15 November 2004

Press Release: Waitakere City

By The Landlord

What is believed to be the largest total fine under the Building Act 1991 has been imposed on a Waitakere City landlord.

Landlord Meng Teck Yeo was fined $49,000 in the Waitakere Court yesterday. Mr Yeo, who had previously pleaded guilty to seven charges under the Building Act, was fined $7,000 for each charge. The Court also awarded Waitakere City Council $750 in solicitors’ costs.

The offences relate to four rental properties in Waitakere City which Mr Yeo let to tenants in de-facto boarding-house arrangements, with occupancy levels far higher than was safe or sanitary given the facilities in the dwellings.

Four houses were found to have inadequate means of fire escape. Judge Phillip Recordon found Mr Yeo’s two previous convictions under the Building Act of particular importance. He emphasised the need for deterrence to ensure that landlords do not let unsafe rooms and flats. For Waitakere City Council, barrister Patrick Mulligan says Judge Recordon’s decision confirms the Courts’ acceptance that “deterrents are required to ensure that landlords did not seek to increase their revenue at the expense of their tenant’s safety”.

This continues a recent trend in which the Courts have supported Waitakere City Council’s stand on unsanitary and unsafe housing, and environmental abuses.

Past decisions include (in June 2001) a total $40,500 fine and costs for a Henderson landlord, who rented a converted garage to a family of six for four years.
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