South Auckland-based landlord Widhani (Debbie) Iskandar, who manages around 100 properties, has been ordered to pay $177,720.56 by the Tribunal for deliberately and knowingly failing to lodge tenancy bonds.
The case, which involved 197 separate complaints against Iskandar, was taken to the Tribunal by MBIE’s Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team (TCIT).
It was the largest case undertaken by TCIT since the team’s establishment in 2016 and it has resulted in the largest fine yet for a landlord.
MBIE acting general manager housing & tenancy services Steve Watson says the legal requirement to lodge tenants’ bond money with the Bond Centre is a fundamental responsibility landlords have under New Zealand’s tenancy law.
“Trust is a key component in the relationship between a landlord and a tenant, and for a landlord to breach that trust on a scale such as this is unacceptable.”
The Tribunal found that Iskandar received and failed to lodge tenancy bond money in 81 cases, to the total of $119,625.
Iskandar has been ordered to lodge $119,625 in bond money with the Tenancy Bond Centre immediately.
She has also been ordered to pay $47,600 for committing unlawful acts under the Residential Tenancies Act (the RTA) in relation to bonds, as well as $10,495.56 in Tribunal and application costs.
This case is not Iskander’s first offence: back in 2016, she attracted media attention for renting out illegally converted garages for above market rent at the peak of the housing crisis.
But Watson says he is extremely pleased with the outcome of this case as a tremendous amount of time and effort went into the investigation.
“TCIT has the ability to enforce this significant number of Orders through the District Court, if Ms Iskandar fails to comply we will not hesitate to do so.”
He added that TCIT will continue to focus on landlords who systematically breach the RTA.
“We will also continue to identify landlords who fail to properly install mandatory smoke alarms, provide insulation statements and – following the 1 July 2019 deadline – install insulation.”
TCIT, which was established in July 2016, focuses on significant or ongoing breaches of the RTA which pose a significant risk to vulnerable tenants.
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