Annie's Journey

Annie* and her whānau/family have lived in their private rental for four years. Their whare/home is managed by a property manager who is known to have a poor relationship with tenants in our rohe.

When I arrived, the whare was warm and being ventilated.  The warmth of the whare was costing the whānau more than they could afford, and they had incurred over $1000 worth of debt with their power company.  They were operating their heat pump at 26 degrees, but it felt much cooler than that.  

The whare was in need of lots of maintenance.  During the assessment, we noted concerns including leaking gutters and downpipes, rotting window frames, windows that were unable to open due to swelling, broken latches, putty missing from windows, mould on the exterior of the building as well as along the front porch from the leaks.  

Annie shared that they had requested these repairs get looked at by the property manager, but nothing had been done.  I suggested that we do a 14-day notice for remedy, as this was a successful approach with this particular property manager earlier this year.

We discussed blast ventilating, cleaning of heat pump filters, only heating rooms being used, draught-proofing, reducing moisture inside and outside the whare, getting a scoopy to help remove condensation, cleaning mould, and power-saving tips.

I drafted up the 14-day notice, emailed it to Annie who reviewed it, and then sent it through to the property manager.  Within the week, mahi was getting done on the whare. Annie and her whānau were delighted. 

However, at their scheduled home inspection Annie and her partner were rather surprised when the property manager herself turned up to do the inspection as she had never done a home inspection in the time the whānau had been with her.  

During the house inspection, she took pictures behind their cabinet in the lounge, where the wall behind had markings, and informed the whānau she was taking the pictures in case they ended up needing to go to court.  

As they walked around the property, looking at the drainage issues outside, the property manager pointed out that a car had been on the lawn and she stated that if anyone drives their cars on the lawn in the future, then the whānau could be charged thousands to have it repaired. 

Annie contacted me to share about the visit.  They had felt intimidated by the property manager and shared that while they were going through the inspection, any issues they raised about the whare, the property manager told them that she was not there for that, making Annie feel dismissed in their concerns.

While at this catch-up, Annie shared how stoked they were with the information and resources I had shared with them, it was already making a noticeable difference in their whare. They cleaned their heat pump and now operate it at 20 to 21 degrees.  They have been doing blast ventilating and finding it considerably better. They are stoked with the scoopy and how much easier it is to keep on top of the window condensation. Annie really valued the education I had provided as people often have different ideas on the best practice, she shared that the property manager had said the windows need to be left open, as opposed to the blast ventilating.

I suggested to the whānau that I could organise to meet with the property manager to discuss what the HHI programme is and how we support whānau. I thought this would also create an opportunity to share with her the information we pass onto our whānau.

I wanted to try and drive home that we are working together for the health of our tamariki and the whare they live in, and working together will result in better outcomes for all.

I met with the property manager and shared what we do in the HHI space. She was happy to hear of our mahi, especially as they do not have time to educate the families in their homes. She admitted that she had been unhappy to receive the 14-day notices and she was reactive to it. She also stated that my whānau had not requested maintenance to be done, at least not formally through her office, before the notice, although maybe her property inspector “may have missed the guttering issues” in previous inspections.  

She admitted that she will only get work done on properties that she is legally required to do.  

Moving forward she is happy for me to contact her directly when a whare requires repairs or maintenance, and she will prioritise getting the mahi done.  This is just a first step towards building a relationship with this property manager that will hopefully decrease the stress on my whānau.

It has been a journey filled with ups and downs. They had maintenance done and are making the most of the education and resources given so far. I am hopeful this initial intimidation from the property manager won’t happen again due to our developing relationship. 

Using the knowledge shared and repairs we have been able to provide, Annie and her whānau have created, and are maintaining, a healthier whare. The whānau are more confident and are empowered to operate their whare so it is warmer, drier, and healthier. They even shared their journey with another kaimahi expressing how stoked they were with the support they have been given so far from our HHI service and the difference they can feel in their whare.

*Name has been changed for anonymity.