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July 16, 2018 | by  | in News Splash | [ssba]

International Student Fights Against Power Tripping Property Manager

An international student has said that his renting situation has improved after speaking to the media about fines in his boarding house.
The student, who has asked not to be named, spoke to the Dominion Post after being charged for supposedly not wiping down a bench.
When he sent an email to his live-in property manager with photo evidence of the clean bench, the property manager responded by threatening him with eviction. “You come across as argumentative and self-important,” the email said. “THIS IS A WARNING — SETTLE DOWN OR MOVE OUT!”
The student, who has been fined 15-20 times, said that he felt bullied and threatened by the property manager’s behaviour. He believes that the boarding house targets vulnerable young international students, who aren’t aware of New Zealand law. Robert Frazer, the property manager, has defended the fine, saying that young people would not clean otherwise.

After going to Tenancy Services, the student was told that it’s illegal for fines to be charged as part of a tenancy agreement, and there were several other aspects of his tenancy agreement that breached the Tenancy Act. The bond that the student paid had also not been lodged.
He is currently working with VUWSA’s Advocacy Services to get his bond lodged and his fines returned, and highly recommends other students in the same situation to do the same, saying “they will help you out.”

Marlon Drake, VUWSA president, said “these cases are more common than many people realise,” and that targeting “international students, who have an even lesser understanding and often struggle with confidence in negotiating due to language barriers, is pretty despicable”.
Since the student has spoken out, he noticed a dramatic change in his property manager’s behaviour. He has not received any more fines or threatening messages, from him, and has been friendly when they cross paths in the common area.
He encourages fellow international students to stand up for themselves, and to understand and exercise their rights. He has no plans to move out of his boarding house.
The landlord couldn’t be reached for comment.

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