Tenants who moved into a brand-new rental unit have trashed the property, stabbing hundreds of holes in the walls and floor and tearing off doors.
Landlord Anthony Dacre said the damage was discovered when the tenants, a young family, were evicted from the home in St Albans, Christchurch.
He found hundreds of stab and punch holes in the walls, doors ripped off their hinges and other door panels broken, holes in the floor vinyl, writing on the walls, broken glass, the oven door pulled apart, and even foot marks on the ceiling.
Dacre said contractors' estimates indicated he "would be lucky to get out of it for under $10,000".
His insurance cover for malicious damage by tenants is $3000 for each event, with a $550 excess payable on each claim. He has laid a complaint with police over the damage.
The tenants, a young man and woman with a child, moved in after Dacre finished building the unit in 2017. Rent was paid by Work and Income to Dacre's property managers.
Bailiffs eventually removed the tenants by order of the Tenancy Tribunal and the locks were changed when the family ignored an eviction order.
The tribunal had ordered the original eviction when the tenants failed to put right previously discovered damage.
Dacre said when he visited the property following the eviction, the couple were camping out in the garage and told him they had nowhere to go.
"I can hardly give them a recommendation," he said, adding they had been unable to explain why they had damaged the home.
"Every room has got to be completely redone. This was a brand new home and there's barely a part of it that hasn't been attacked in one way or another."
A neighbour said she and other neighbours had been concerned at the behaviour of the tenants, who appeared to be using the property for drug dealing. There had been violence including fights at the unit, and one occupant had recently spent time in prison, the neighbour said.
"It's dreadful – this is an awesome location and a lot of people would like to live here," she said.
Dacre said that while the damage had been done in the past few weeks, "we can't be sure whether it was done between the time of the court ruling and the actual eviction, on a revenge basis – we simply don't know that".
He expected he would have to drug test the unit, adding to the costs he and his insurer were facing.
The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 took effect on Tuesday, creating a raft of changes for tenants and landlords.
A significant change addresses the issue of liability for damage to a rental property.
Tenants are now liable for an amount equal to four weeks' rent, or the landlord's insurance excess, whichever is lower, in any incident of damage.
Insurance companies can pursue tenants on the landlord's behalf if the damage was intentional or due to an unlawful act.