Landlord who pitched tent under rental property, slept in it and refused to leave slapped with fine

A Tenancy Tribunal hearing has uncovered a bizarre move by a Raglan landlord who pitched a tent under his rental property and slept in it overnight. 

Landlord Brian Clement was asked to leave from underneath his rental multiple times but instead verbally insulted the tenants and invented excuses as to why he was there. 

The Raglan landlord’s tenant and girlfriend, whose names are suppressed, told the Tribunal Clement continued to come “unannounced and overstayed” at the rental for up to three days at a time. 

“I can recall seeing him at the house at least fifteen times over a two-year period, and he stayed overnight seven times,” the tenant’s girlfriend said. 

“We asked him to leave because we needed our space back.”

She told the Tribunal the more Clement visited the property “the more it disturbed our sense of privacy at home”. 

On one occasion, the tenant had left Raglan for a couple of days, leaving his girlfriend and her daughter at home. The tenant asked Clement not to stay at their home over that period but he ignored that request.

“I cannot express how uncomfortable and weird I felt that night,” the girlfriend said. 

The tenant’s girlfriend sent Clement a message that night after she heard him around the house. 

“I asked him once more to leave.”

The girlfriend’s message was followed by two phone calls because Clement wouldn’t answer, and when he did Clement requested the girlfriend pass on verbal insults to her partner when he returns.

“He said he was just under the house catching the internet wifi.”

The girlfriend told the Tribunal she felt so uncomfortable about the situation she reached out to the neighbours “to have them looking out for me”.

“I have never felt so disrespected by a landlord.”

She said the conversation between her and the landlord went into the late hours of the night. 

The next morning followed, and it wasn’t until then that she realised Clement had pitched a tent under the house and slept there.

“I thought he would sleep in his car.”

The neighbour told the Tribunal the relationship between Clement and the tenant “was unusual and always grey” over the ten years of the tenancy. 

The neighbour confirmed Clement appeared to come and go from the property and stayed overnight on several occasions throughout the years. 

“This seemed to work for both parties at this stage, [but] in late 2020 it became obvious the relationship was deteriorating.”

On the night Clement slept under the house the neighbour tried to find him after the girlfriend alerted the neighbour to his behaviour. 

“I found his car was still on the driveway, I couldn’t find him, but he was still somewhere around on the property,” the neighbour said. 

“This was unnerving but did not amount to anything, but it did give cause to feel uncomfortable and even unsafe at the time.” 

Clement disputed the truthfulness and accuracy of the neighbour and girlfriend’s statement, but the tribunal found he did not establish any doubt in their statements.

“There is consistency between the statement from the [girlfriend] and the neighbour as to what happened at the time of the visit by the landlord.” 

Clement told the Tribunal he pitched the tent under the house to store his tools, although he accepted that he did sleep in it for one night. 

The Tribunal ordered Clement to pay $700 in damages for his unlawful entry, and another $1000 for his property not having effective underfloor insulation.