Saturday, October 11, 2014

Christchurch CBD Update, 4 Years Post Sept 2010 Quake. CERA Boss Sutton's Demise & CCDU Boss Isaac's Demise

Saturday 11.10.14. It was 4 years since the Sept 2010 quake & we'd survived all the subsequent quakes & rebuild disruptions during 2010-2013. In 2014 we'd moved to Lake Tekapo then Fairlie in Mackenzie Country about 200 kms from Christchurch. We'd returned regularly to Christchurch to relocate our possessions, visit our adult sons, still working & flatting in Christchurch & for Leah's lecturing & meetings at Seabrook Mackenzie Centre, London St.

As Leah had another meeting in Christchurch, I dropped her off at Black Betty Cafe, Manchester St. Black Betty Cafe was so successful at New Brighton, it had moved to the CBD, opposite the tech. I had the afternoon to kill before I rejoined Leah at Seabrook Mackenzie Centre, so I wandered Christchurch's quake trashed & demolished CBD. Since I'd last wandered Christchurch CBD, mid December 2013, there was slow progress by CERA's CCDU, private rebuilds & Council activities, amidst dusty demolition sites, Wilsons car parks & few businesses trying to re-establish.

Notes I made while wandering Christchurch CBD:

St Asaph St: Still tatty - backs of part demolished / abandoned, High St bldgs were an eyesore.

Manchester St / St Asaph St / Tuam St corners, both sides of Manchester St, were still demolition site messes. There were many ragged demolition sites by Poplar St, High St, Tuam St, Lichfield St, Madras St. An indictment of CCDU's so-called, green E Frame. There were still part demolished & abandoned bldgs on High St, near Alice in Videoland.

Opposite EPIC, Odeon Theatre roof was gone from Manchester St road side. The unclaimed roof had lain there, an eyesore, for a couple of years. Half demolished Odeon Theatre was still an eyesore, theatre seats & part demolished auditorium were still exposed to the elements.

Tuam St: The old Council bldg, full of asbestos, was demolished in 2014 for the new bus exchange. The post quake, temporary bus exchange had worked for a couple of years further along Tuam St.

Manchester St, E Frame, blocks between Lichfield St & Worcester St, several bldgs were demolished & sites were grassed for the E Frame. Bldgs like Majestic Theatre; quake trashed bldg by Bedford Row; abandoned Shooters & neighbouring bldgs; all gone. That area of quake trashed Manchester St was neatened up, at last.

Corner Manchester St / Worcester St: Quake ruined Trinity Church / Octagon Restaurant was an abandoned eyesore. Kitsch photo art of quake trashed Trinity Church, covered N & S ruined facades.

In June 2015 Shands Emporium was relocated next to Trinity Church. Across the road, post quake rebuild, Westende House was demolished in July 2015. CCDU wanted to widen Manchester St there to build a bus stop.

Cathedral Square: Christchurch Cathedral was a ruined eyesore for 4 years, so far. Nothing going on, the Cathedral was still surrounded by boards & fencing. Arctic promo boards in front of the W facade showed various Arctic scenes & research by various countries. The Maori plant whare still stood by the fence-closed entrance to the Cathedral W facade. Asian tourists happy-snapped Cathedral ruins.

Latest propaganda / misinformation by The Press: Published aerial pics of E side of the Cathedral rather than the serial quake ruined W facade, tried bamboozling the public, especially outsiders, that there was little quake damage to Christchurch Cathedral. If that was true, why board up & fence the Cathedral, stopping public access?

Cathedral Sq: Abandoned Camelot Hotel awaited 2015 demolition to make way for Central Library rebuild. Novotel open. Cathedral Junction open, trams running. Heritage Hotel open. Millennium Hotel still closed.

Government Life bldg in Cathedral Sq was being demolished, filled with asbestos pollution. Never mind passersby. Abandoned Gloucester St bldgs by abandoned Arcades bldg & Government Life were also being demolished. Abandoned Gloucester St, Central Library, half demolished for CCDU's Blueprint Convention Centre. Gloucester St Bridge was still closed for repairs. Anyone could see quakes had sunk the area into Avon River swampland. Yet NZ govt / CERA wanted to spend millions of dollars erecting a Convention Centre there, a monument to National stupidity.

Colombo St / Hereford St corner: BNZ asbestos ruin was still closed, part demolished, by closed Millennium Hotel next door. Opposite corner, on ANZ demolition site, an office block rebuild progressed.

BNZ Centre construction site on Cashel Mall, by Colombo St / The Crossing: Pagoda House on The Crossing was still abandoned. Opposite, Ballantynes was humming. To make way for BNZ Centre, Restart Cashel Mall container shops, opposite Ballantynes, were moved closer to Remembrance Arch by Oxford Tce.

Abandoned Mad Cow bldg, Oxford Tce, was demolished for the relocated container shops. Remembrance Arch was boarded for quake repairs. Remembrance Arch lions were gone for repairs. Saturday Flea market stalls & takeaway food carts lined Cashel Mall. Pre quakes, the stalls & carts used to be at the Arts Centre, Worcester Blvd.

Oxford Tce: The Terrace rebuild was stalled with steel skeleton incomplete, unpainted steel joint panels on painted girders were already rusting! In 2015 The Terrace resumed rebuilding.

Corner Gloucester St / Durham St Nth: Provincial Council bldg was still closed for quake repairs. Opposite, Amuri Courts demolition site, a crane was still on site while the office block rebuild progressed. Opposite, Cambridge Tce corner, Deloitte 5 storey office rebuild was almost complete, with wavy glass walls & green glass panels.

Worcester Blvd: Art Gallery was closed & fenced for quake repairs. Arts Center was still closed & fenced for quake repairs.

Rolleston Ave: Canterbury Museum was humming. There was a new display of old Arctic, portable ply board huts & another display of modern Arctic modular constructions, some portable, as Arctic ice / snow moves. I watched a movie of Sir Edmund Hillary's 1950s expedition to the South Pole, his Sno Cats falling into crevasses en route. It renewed my interest in the Arctic Sno Cat & tractor displays in the museum.

The Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre was complete.

Corner Durham St Nth / Chester St West: Abandoned NZ Radio bldg & Spicers bldg were demolished for a law office office rebuild in progress.

Corner Durham St Nth / Kilmore St: On Crowne Plaza Hotel demolition site, Pallet Pavilion was gone. The relocatable wooden Arches still stood. Gap Filler wooden office still stood on site. A small digger landscaped the site with new soil by replanted grass.

Kilmore St: Quake trashed Town Hall was still boarded, no repairs yet. The road was repaired with new tar seal in front of Forte Health glassy rebuild.

Council's Black Map, a Victorian Map of Christchurch rivers & swamps, showed that Forte Heath was built on top of an underground stream flowing to Avon River. CBD bare ground, after all the CBD demolitions, made it easy to see where underground streams ran & where terrific damage was done during the quakes. Example: Kilmore St, Salisbury St, Peterborough St had an underground stream & were all blitzed by the quakes. Abandoned Town Hall stood on Kilmore St beside Avon River. PGC bldg, Cambridge Tce, which collapsed in the 22.02.11 quake, was built on an old, silty levee close to Avon River. Post quake engineers & architects repeated the same stupidity as former CBD swamp builders.

Peterborough St: Road repairs progressed by Manchester St crossing. CERA's regrassing, diagonally opposite St Lukes demolition site, was overgrown, like 9 months ago when I'd last wandered by. The shabby vegetation insulted families of those who'd died in nearby PGC bldg collapse, during the 22.02.11 quake.

Barbadoes St Cemetery by Avon River: Many grave stones were still toppled by quakes. In the CBD all along slumped Avon River banks, the banks were restored with black material laid on river mud & pinned with steel pins. In places riverbank repairs narrowed the river to constrict & speed up water flow.

Fitzgerald Ave, by the post quake rebuilt, northbound bridge, overlooking Oxford Tce: While I viewed red zone demolition sites, across Avon River, where Jake had once flatted in the Avon Loop, Luke pull up in his van. A pleasant coincidence.

18.11.14. TV 1 news & The Press reported CERA boss Sutton's demise. One of his female staff complained that Sutton got fresh with female staff, hugged female staff, calling them "honey" & "sweetie" & told sexist jokes, so Sutton announced his resignation at a press conference, even admitting mea culpa, but whining about his exhaustion.

In my teaching career in SA I'd met crude bosses like Sutton, who went through divorces, socially & emotionally retarded, making snide remarks about women & sexist jokes & leering at other men's wives, expecting other men to support their filthy minds & wayward hands.

Over 41 months or so since the 13.06.11 quake, Sutton had overseen formation of NZ govt red zones & NZ qovt green zones in quake trashed areas - demolitions of 1 000s of houses in residential red zones & demolitions of 100s of houses & commercial bldgs in Christchurch CBD red zone.

Sutton had overseen SCIRT infrastructure road repairs, far from complete & a constant irritant to road users, due to numerous road cones, detours & sloppily repaired roads.

Sutton had also overseen NZ govt's Blueprint for Christchurch CBD, but so far, all the CBD had was dusty demolition sites, abandoned bldgs, a few struggling businesses & some rebuilds or revamps done by Council or the private sector - some repaired hotels, New Regent St restored businesses, repaired Cathedral Junction, Restart Cashel Mall container shops on demolition sites.

No NZ govt Blueprint anchor projects were built yet. As for the so-called green Frames, many bldgs were demolished in the E Frame for parkland & as an afterthought, new housing. The S Frame was filled with perfectly OK, quake surviving businesses, like car dealerships, which were screwed around by Sutton's CERA until January 2015, when Sutton left. CERA then decided not to purchase most of those viable S Frame businesses & backtracked on it's S Frame, wanting just a few green lanes, whatever that meant.

Sutton's CERA had planted lots of grass in demolished red zones & in the E Frame in the demolished CBD. The trouble with expensive planted & mown grass was that mown grass didn't allow natural plant succession in the red zones, encouraging local fauna back to the red zones.

So far, all the rebuild CERA had done was fiddle with Blueprint CBD Avon River banks, by revamping CBD river bank paths & gardens. Sutton's legacy was many govt demolitions, no govt rebuilds - a study of NZ govt's disaster management cockups.

Sutton's indifference when CERA made risible govt offers to red zoned, bare ground, landowners: "Here's the offer. Have a nice day." I doubted red zoners would weep for Sutton's demise.

The Sutton fiasco was expedient for NZ govt, as CERA was formed post 22.02.11 quake & would only last till April 2016. A 02.09.14, CERA media release read: CERA will become a Department Agency within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet... So all CERA's puffery over its 2011-2016  tenure would be offloaded to the PM's Dept & Cabinet.

Friday 19.12.14. While Leah had a Xmas function at London St, I wandered the gritty CBD again & found rebuild work going on at Poplar Ln, where Jake had flatted pre quakes. Odeon Theatre was still part demolished, a post quake eyesore. TV news had featured a Johnny-Come-Lately touting his forthcoming book of quake trashed bldgs & had shown him sneaking into fence-cordoned Odeon Theatre demolition site, to take pics. I'd taken many pics of post quake Odeon Theatre. The latest news flavour of the month was photographers sneaking into quake trashed bldgs, like ruined Christchurch Cathedral & taking pics. That was an indictment of CERA's slow demolitions & slow quake recovery.

Besides graffiti on quake ruined walls, so-called art was also found on quake trashed walls or walls of revamped bldgs, like a bowing ballerina painted on the back wall of revamped Isaac Theatre Royal. The latest art was colourful, fibre glass giraffes all over the CBD,

Majestic Theatre demolition site on Manchester St was a Council car park.

Corner Manchester St & High St: Workmen revamped the tram line.

I wandered down High St during lunch hour & found Brick Farm, a gritty gastro-pub, full of boozy men, no women, amongst quake ruins. Stranges Ln, between Lichfield St & High St, had 3 busy, new gastro-pubs in a new bldg & a pre-quakes, brick bldg across the lane. Stranges Ln spooked me, as I didn't trust the old brick bldg.

Cashel St / High St crossing: Three diggers were parked on top of a massive concrete rubble pile, ready for a rebuild.

Christchurch Cathedral ruin was just as disreputable as it was months ago. The Wizard was back jabbering to tourists before the ruin, an apprentice Wizard in tow. A man dressed in white leggings, white shirt, black waistcoat & tricorn hat chatted to a hobo. Men played giant chess nearby. The Council Library & Government Life bldg were demolished at last, for NZ govt's Blueprint Convention Centre.

Victoria Sq: Victoria Square apartments were demolished, also for the Blueprint Convention Centre. Repaired Colombo St Bridge looked good beside ruined Christchurch Town Hall.

CERA media release, 10.02.15 - Warwick Isaacs to take on new challenge. CERA rats were leaving the sinking ship. Like Sutton, all that Isaacs left was a demolished, red zone CBD, mostly empty demolition sites, abandoned bldgs & a few rebuilds done by the private sector. No Blueprint anchor projects had started. Just tinkering with Avon River banks.

CERA media release. 29.01.15 - Residential chapter release paves way for vibrant central city living. Isaacs had left shortly after CERA altered the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan & City Plan (District Plan under Resource Management Act 1991) enabling quicker rebuild of shoddy housing in the CBD, particularly CCDU's E Frame.

Isaacs: A Liveable City creates a new Central City Residential Zone which gives those building homes more flexibility in their design & allows a range of housing types for those who are keen to look at living in a vibrant central city.

We have a goal of seeing more than 20 000 people living in the central city in attractive neighbourhoods with diverse communities. The residential chapter includes more information on development initiatives such as residential development in the East Frame, an area that will be home to approximately 2 000 people and which will begin construction toward the end of the year. [By the end of 2016, no residential buildings had started in the E Frame].

The boost to residential activity will encourage further commercial growth and investment as people move into the central city.

The latter was obvious, but it took CERA nearly 4 years post Feb 22 quake to admit it. CERA's original Blueprint was to use the E & S Frame as a land bank cum parkland, to improve land values for a favoured few red zone sections in the Frame, CERA's so-called core CBD. Meanwhile quake damaged & CERA-cordon-strangled, CBD businesses relocated elsewhere, while CERA dithered.

Isaacs quit to become CEO of Stonewood Homes which soon went into liquidation.

28.02.15. On one of my Christchurch trips, I drove Luke along New Brighton Rd, past red zone, Locksley Ave turnoff, with views across Kerrs Reach & red zone both sides of Avon River, to New Brighton. Luke wanted to show me salvage sites he'd worked at, like red zone, housing demolitions at Kate Sheppard Retirement Village & red zone, housing demolitions at New Brighton & Bexley.

We returned to town via Pages Rd, past red zone Bexley, Wairoa St, Waitaki St & Bexley Rd. Most of the houses in residential red zone we passed were demolished. The residential red zone was scruffy with overgrown vegetation. Pages Rd Bridge was still in a parlous state of disrepair. A new Burger King was built on a demolition site, corner Aldwins Rd / Linwood Ave. Luke said, "Burger King went up pretty quickly, competition with McDonald's & KFC across the road."

Most roads I drove that day, like Bealey Ave, Fitzgerald Ave, St Asaph St... were still in a parlous state of disrepair. So much for SCIRT repairs. Inferior bitumen was repeatedly laid, patch upon patch by contractors. Asphalt trucks roamed Christchurch, but tar seal repeatedly cracked & needed repairs, again & again. No one was inspecting road repairs properly. SCIRT contractors made a fortune doing crap work, digging up roads over & over again.

New mayor Dalziel recently opined that it would take another 30 years before Christchurch roads would be up to pre quake standards. Never mind massive rates increases by her Council.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Victim upset by Suttons conduct (The Press / Stuff Co)

See Resignation of CERA Chief Executive (NZ State Services Commission)

See Land for anchor projects reduced (The Press / Stuff Co)

See Warwick Isaacs to take on new challenge (CERA media release 10 February 2015)

See Christchurch faces 30 more years of rough roads (The Press / Stuff Co)


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Christchurch Quakes: Post Quakes, Academic Research Permissions

Since my blog posts on the 2010-2013 Christchurch quakes, I'd received many requests from all over the world & New Zealand for use of my quake pics in publications, or for research reasons. Varsity students wanted to use my pics for theses. I allowed permission to use a pic or two, if the permission request was courteous & precise, asking for one or two specific photo permissions. If many photo permissions were asked for, or a whole blog post was asked for, the student or requestor was trying to scam my intellectual property.

Most annoying were those who used my blog pics & didn't bother to ask. They thought because I'd published on Blogger my intellectual property was theirs to steal.

Some email correspondence: The reader will see why the first request from a Canterbury University, geography researcher was irritating & declined by me & the second request from an Austrian archeology researcher was perfect & why I gave permission to use my intellectual property. The third example from a USA engineer was similarly approved.

I left punctuation, grammar, spelling errors as is, using only initials for privacy reasons.

PERMISSION REQUEST 1. Thurs, 18 Sept 2014 email, from student GA, University of Canterbury:

Hey there Mark my name is GA, I am a 3rd year student at University of Canterbury, and I am currently participating in the 300 level Geography 309 Research methods in Geography Our research group consisting of myself, JD, NF & WAH, has been assigned to working with the Peterborough village community [in Christchurch quake trashed CBD] with DL as our community representative [a landscape architect] to develop an interactive mapping tool to archive past, present and future images and memories under the supervision of Professor EP.
We are hoping to have permission to utilize images from your website http://wozawanderer.blogspot.co.nz/2011/08/snowjob-christchurch-cbd-post-june-13-html and the possibilities of linking your website to the mapping site software. [GA conflated website & blog post].
Could you please advise us as to any legal requirements relating to copyright regulations... [So much for Prof EP's supervision].

My Tues, 23 Sept 2014 email reply:

Beware. You're dealing with emotive Copyright property & potential theft of intellectual property. I spent many hours taking, editing & uploading quake pics [20 600 total] at considerable personal & financial costs & now many people want them. Lots of my blogging time is spent tracking down Copyright theft of my pics through Google searches & giving permission for use of my Copyright pics, for those who ask. Browse my Woza Mark & Woza Wanderer blog comments, you'll see what I mean.

I don't mind my specific quake images being used for varsity research purposes with my Woza Wanderer citing. I've already given several varsity students permissions to do so, amongst other permissions. As it stands via Blogger, anyone in the world can ask for my permission to use my blog pics. Why does Canterbury University want to control my blog pics?

Your linking / archiving suggestions sounds like Canterbury University wants to control use of & own my Copyright pics & Content. Over 3 quake years, I blogged scores more quake posts, more than just the snow job post. You're vague about varsity linking & archiving. I'd want to know in future specifically who'd want to use my Copyright pics, especially for their own financial gain. After all those thousands of images & content are mine & my family's copyright intellectual property. Archiving it under control of Canterbury University, it becomes Canterbury University intellectual property & no longer mine & my family's property.

You need to tell me what benefits / financial gains I get to have my Content, Copyright pics & intellectual property linked to by Canterbury University & archived by Canterbury University...

PS. I suggest you read Google's copyright info on Blogger. Read my blog post via Dr Karen Putasi's NZQA & theft of my copyright pic for NZQA year 13 biology exam purposes, a couple of years ago. The internet Copyright scene in NZ & NZ govt control / lack of control of it is nasty. Kim Dotcom's Mega Upload & Mega stories pertain. As for legal requirements, read NZ Copyright Act for the Copyright info you require. Christchurch Central Library had copies of the Act when I last looked.

Student GA's Tues, 23 Sept 2014 email reply:

Hi Mark sorry if my email was taken in the wrong context, the university of Canterbury is not to blame.
Our research group think you image collection of the CBD and blogg are amazing and can understand that you have concerns. we were willing to annotate all images with you name etc, and the link would have followed the Images intending on directing additional viewers to your blogg.
We are sorry for the misunderstanding.
Take care and nice work...

My Wed, 24 Sept email reply:

Again you are vague. Context is a weasel word for deception.

Let me be clear. I have NOT given you or any other UC student named by you or UC geography faculty permission to store, use or manipulate my copyright Woza Wanderer blog material, including pics & content, in any way. If you or others you mention have already done so, please delete, as it is my intellectual property, created at my cost & my legacy to my family.

I suggest you consult intellectual property lawyers. I'm astounded that prof EP you mention has not already supervised so...

My Sat, 27 Sept 2014 email to prof EP, University of Canterbury:

With reference to my email exchange with your student GA, my email address list was hacked within 2 days. That makes GA a possible suspect. Everyone in my email address list was emailed by [cultural]boomerang.com. [The spam email to my email address list was about 4 EU countries, Poland, Turkey, Czechoslovakia & Bulgaria trying to improve students' English & studies via cultural activities].

Given GA's tone of entitlement to my intellectual property, I suggest you supervise GA regarding others' intellectual property & goodwill pertaining to UC....

No response from prof EP.

PERMISSION REQUEST 2. Thurs, 7 Oct 2014 email from Dr AK, Carnuntum archeologist, Austria:

Quite recently I happened to find your blog containing data on and pictures of the earth quake at Christchurch.

I am in the process of editing the acts of a scientific congress having taken place at Carnuntum / Austria in 2013 with the topic "The Carnuntum Erath Quake in Context", dealing with aspects of an earth quake which more or less obliterated the Roman town of Carnuntum around AD 360. In one of the articles submitted, its author, MK, who originally developed the theory that a quake once hit this place, needs a picture of a toppled wall which has without doubt been destroyed by a quake, as a parallel to prove that walls can indeed look like this after such an event (archeologists normally have no objection against the interpretation that an earth quake hit a site, but geologists tend to doubt any evidence not supported by seismograms, which are quite hard to come by for antiquity, but this is a lengthy discussion with which I don't want to bother you).

You have published online, in your blog, the picture attached, showing a perfect sample of a toppled wall at Christchurch, quite similar to what they do indeed often look alike in our excavations and this image would fit perfectly well as an illustration for Dr. MK's argument. I therefore request, with all courtesy, your permit to use the image in question, downloaded from your blog, in print in the above mentioned volume. This is a scientific, non-profit publication and therefore I hope to receive your permit cost free. You will of course be mentioned as author of the picture, therefore I kindly request that you tell me the name you want to be shown...

Dr. AK

Grabung Carnuntum
Archaologischer Park Carnuntum...

I gave Dr AK permission to use my Christchurch quake, toppled wall pic in his Austrian publication. It wasn't my first such permission, nor I expect my last.

PERMISSION REQUEST 3. Sun 08.02.15. An email exchange with a USA engineer, Dr CD, who felt entitled to all my 20 600 edited & uploaded, quake pics:

Sun 08.02.15. USA engineer, Dr CD: I am writing to request permission to use photographs you have posted. I will use these photographs in some professional publications I am preparing.

Let me first introduce myself. I am Dr CD. I have a PhD in civil engineering focusing on geotechnical engineering and lifeline systems. I live and work in Los Angeles, California. I work at the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. I investigate and report on earthquake effects and how lifeline systems are impacted. I do my research on a voluntary basis, mostly out of interest and drive to learn about and improve our common understanding of earthquake impacts on infrastructure and society. My goal is to incrementally improve our ability to reduce earthquake impacts and increase our seismic resilience around the world.

I have been to Christchurch several times since 2010 and am working with people from the University of Canterbury, CCC, SCIRT, GNS, the Treasury and others. My current interest is a unique study on the flooding which occurred following the series of earthquakes and how liquefaction caused this flooding. You have a set of photographs useful for helping me to make my case. In order to make this case and convince the scientific community of the facts I am preparing professional publications to be printed in conference proceedings, workshops, professional monographs and peer reviewed journals.

My request to you is to allow me to utilize your photographs from your blogs in my publications free of charge. Each time I use these photographs I will give full credit and reference Mark Esslemont.

Please let me know if you would provide permissions for general use of your posted photographs, or if you prefer I can provide specific request for each photograph I would like to use.

I am attaching photographs currently of most interest to me. However as I proceed with my studies there are others you have taken which may be useful for documentation.

I do not want to burden your time, but if you have additional photographs with the liquefaction flooding please let me know. Also I would like to know the locations where each was taken. I would appreciate help in identifying the photograph locations if you do not mind,

[Dr CD wanted a lot of "free" work. He obviously hadn't scrutinized my 200 odd, quake blog posts & seen that my 20 600 odd quake pics were ordered according to locations & captioned accordingly. I didn't caption every single pic, as I would've repeated ad nauesum, information already captioned in associated pics. Massively time consuming, making it easy for lazy academics & copyright thieves].

I do appreciate your taking time to take and post the information you have in the past. It is of great value for all to see. I also appreciate your time to review my request here.

Thank you in advance for your kind consideration...

My Sun 08.02.15 reply: You may use my blog pics you need for your research. Just credit my name & Woza Wanderer blog for each pic you use. It is not a good idea to give general permission, as my quake pics are unique & a copyright legacy for my adult family. Who knows my quake pics could be worth a fortune one day? So my family deserve that ownership right, having endured all the Canterbury quakes as well. Hence I would want to know what specific pics you will use for your publications.

Who knows, in future my publisher / publications will also need to know which of my copyright pics have been published elsewhere?

My quake pics were edited & uploaded in haste during quakes & aftershock times, so not all pics are captioned, time consuming & ongoing still, but the title of each blog post & captioned pics should give the location, in addition to my content notes, street names, etc, in each blog post.

If you require any more info for specific pics let me know.

Good luck with your research. I've had several requests for use of my quake pics for research projects, by councils' usage, universities, etc, local & worldwide, so my copyright is imperative.

I don't have current pics of the latest Christchurch quake related flooding [at Flockton Basin] as I am now living in Fairlie, several hours drive away from Christchurch, in the Southern Alps...

Mon 09.02.15. USA engineer Dr CD's response: Thank you greatly for approval to use your photos. I will acknowledge you and Woza Wanderer blog each time and also let you know which photographs are being used in each publication I use them in.

I definitely do not want to impact your copyright and did not intend to request to do so. To the contrary I completely respect your interest and copyright, which is why I made the request.

Thank you again and please be prepared to hear from me again, probably several times over the coming year to get more information on specific photos and also to identify which photos I would like to use in different publications.

I never heard from Dr CD again.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jack Lovelock Track, Fairlie

Named after 1936 Berlin Olympian, Jack Lovelock Track is a flat, 8 km, circular walk along Fairlie outskirt roads.

Starting along School Rd towards Albury Range, pass Fairlie Primary School, then wander out of town amongst sheep paddocks till tar seal becomes dirt road.

A couple of kms out of Fairlie, turn right along Jack Lovelock Track, pass sheep paddocks & farm land, cross 3 fords, then briefly join Te Puke Rd, which joins Nixons Rd back to town.

Westwards are great views of Albury Range, then nor' eastwards - Mt Maud, Mt Edward, Two Thumbs Range, Mt Dobson, Fox Peak, then eastwards to Ashwick Flats & Devils Peak.

Part rural paddocks, part town, Nixons Rd has newer houses including a homestay & a variety of farm animals - horses, sheep, kuni pigs, alpacas.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kakahu Bush near Geraldine

On the Geraldine - Fairlie road, about 16 kms from Geraldine, there's the Kakahu Bush turnoff, which goes about 1.5 kms along a dirt road to Kakahu Bush.

The approx 8 km Kakahu Bush walk starts at a Victorian lime kiln, built of stone in 1876. The surrounding hilly geology is mainly limestone & some low grade coal, which Victorians burnt with limestone to change calcium carbonate to calcium oxide in the lime kiln. Nowadays lime fertilizer is just crushed limestone without kiln heat. Several birds, like sparrows, use the poke holes in the lime kiln wall as nesting places.

The walk is as long or as short as one wants. It consists of 3 stages:

1. Approx 30 minutes - From the lime kiln car park, along Kakahu River bank, the track goes beside crack willows to the Sanatorium glade, signified by two large pines & an old oak. In spring there's gorse pollution in the bowl of hills surrounding the Sanatorium site.

2. Approx 40 minutes from the Sanatorium glade through steep Kakahu Bush to Hanging Rock. Kakahu Bush consists of kanuka forest, Kunzea ericoides, with the usual understorey & birdlife, like fantails. Some understorey plants: prickly mingimingi, Leptecophylla juniperina; soft mingimingi, Leucopogon fasciculatus; tree fuchsia, Fuchsia excorticata; five finger, Pseudopanax arboreus; broadleaf, Griselinia littoralis; whiteywood, Melicytus ramiflorus; various lancewoods, pittosporums & ferns... In places gorse pollution, Ulex eoropeus & blackberry pollution abounds.

3. The track continues upwards through kanuka forest to The Pinnacles, seen from a hilltop paddock across a bushy valley. A track direction board shows the last loop of the walk around The Pinnacles as 1 hour duration. From Hanging Rock, within 10 minutes we'd wandered onto the hilltop paddock, where we had lunch overlooking The Pinnacles, great lumps of limestone rock in thick bush. We opted not to go around The Pinnacles, as it was windy, so we returned the way we came. Friends texted us that it had snowed that morning at Lake Tekapo & Twizel, so The Pinnacles wind had a cold bite.

Return to the lime kiln car park was easy downhill. In all we walked about 4 hours.

The Pinnacles & Kakahu Bush can be glimpsed from Geraldine - Fairlie road.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Our Road To Friendly Fairlie, Mackenzie Country

In a southern Alpine valley, friendly Fairlie is the junction town between coastal Pacific settlements and high Mackenzie Country. Our old flax mill cottage in Talbot Rd has grand views of snowy mountains.

Our road to friendly Fairlie began 19 years ago when we emigrated from East London, South Africa, to Christchurch, New Zealand, where our sons grew up. Over the years in Christchurch, we rented 3 houses in Sumner, Halswell & Burnside.

After Leah accepted a teaching post at Lake Tekapo School, 43 kms from Fairlie, we relocated to Lake Tekapo, where we were accommodated in a holiday home until we found suitable housing.

We mingled with tourists at shops & restaurants on the lake shore & at Tekapo Springs below Mt John. We went for walks around The Cairns golf course & up Mt John to the Observatory & Astro Cafe.

We went on school excursions - ice skating at Tekapo Springs; skiing at Round Hill ski field; watching DOC release rare black stilts at Glenmore Station wetland, between Lake Tekapo & Lake Alexandrina; seeing stars & planets at Mt John Observatory; a scenic flight over Southern Alps; Albury cross country.

Lake Tekapo Alpine views are magnificent - western Ben Ohau Range going to Mt Cook & eastern Two Thumbs Range going to Mt Sibbald, with Mt Stevenson, Gammack Range & Hall Range in the middle, forming the Mackenzie Basin.

Lake Tekapo is tourist oriented and many houses are expensive holiday homes, closed for most of the year. We looked at "cheap" $400 pw rentals, unaffordable for us.

Down Burkes Pass, in the middle of winter, we relocated to a $200 pw rental at friendly Fairlie. Having endured Christchurch damp winters, I prefer Fairlie's crisp frosts. With supplied stove, heat pump, wood burner & washing machine, our Fairlie rental is better value than our old Christchurch rentals, which were only supplied with stoves.

Comparing our Christchurch and Fairlie electricity bills, the latter reduce about 70% in winter, as we use a wood burner with wet back for heating. Example:

               Our Sept 2013, Meridian bill for our Christchurch 3 bedroom rental - $298.45
               Our Sept 2014, Meridian bill for our Fairlie 2 bedroom rental - $91.67

From our kitchen window we see golfers' mighty swipes, as they tee off at Fairlie Golf Course. As our back garden gate enters the course we regularly wander the course. Along nearby Opihi River, a walkway goes all the way to Kimbell.

We visit our adult sons who work & rent in Christchurch. Their individual rents in quake-damaged houses are more than twice our Fairlie rent. During post-quake years, Christchurch rents inflated astronomically, like Lake Tekapo rents - unaffordable.

Returning from Christchurch, on the road to Fairlie, we stop at Geraldine for petrol, or to dine at a cafe, or re-supply our juices, jams and chutneys at Barkers factory shop. We explore gorges near Geraldine: Te Moana Gorge; Waihi Gorge; Orari Gorge.

On the road to friendly Fairlie - Valley Brewing Company, Gapes Valley, we quaff local brews. On top of Mt Michael, at Farm Barn Cafe, we savour delicious food & Alpine views.

Near Farm Barn Cafe, a roadside plane table shows the panorama around Fairlie - High Claytons, Mt Walker, Devils Peak, The Brothers Range, Albury Range & beyond to Dalgety Range, Mt Nessing & Mt Nimrod, on the way to Timaru. In the opposite direction, Southern Alps seen from our Fairlie home - Mt Edward, Mt Maud, Tekapo Saddle, Two Thumbs Range, Mt Dobson, Mt Fox, the latter two with ski fields.

Our old Toyota Corolla chugged up Mackenzie Pass, where sheep rustler James Mackenzie was caught on 4 March 1855, then escaped. Our Toyota is serviced at Mackenzie Country Motors in Fairlie, where I bought snow chains, just in case.

Leah buses to Lake Tekapo School. Some days I drive her there. While waiting for her to finish teaching, I ramble - Cowans Hill; the pine forested Regional Park by Lilybank Rd; azure Lake Tekapo shore; larch forested Mt John.

Leah teaches four days a week at Lake Tekapo School & teaches on Fridays at St Joseph's School, Fairlie. We leave our footprints in both Alpine towns. As Leah's students & colleague are involved in farming, we visit some sheep stations in Mackenzie Country - Mt Hay; Mt Gerald; Haldon Arms; Holbrook; Blue Mountain.

We visit the Community Library at Mackenzie College next to Fairlie Primary School. There's a kindergarten and play group too.

There's a swimming pool, a bowls club, a squash club, a rugby club. There's shops and accommodation establishments. There's Fairlie Heritage Museum and art galleries at Kimbell and Burkes Pass.

On Main St, near a bronze statue of James Mackenzie & his sheep dog, we buy pies at Fairlie Bakehouse; fish 'n chips at Fairlie Country Cafe; Thai Takeaways at at Kai 'n Thai. [1915. Overstayer owners left]. We enjoy pub grub and pool at Fairlie Hotel & restaurant fare at the Red Stag, aka Rimuwhare.

We do minor shopping at Four Square supermarket, Fairlie. Major shopping, twice a month we drive to Timaru, about 60 kms away. At Pleasant Point we drop into Legends Cafe for a meal, by the revamped railway line and museum. En route to Timaru or Geraldine we explore country roads, hills & valleys, like Raincliffs, Kakahu Bush, Totara Valley, Monavale, Pareora Gorge.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Rare Black Stilt / Kaki Release, Glenmore Station, Mackenzie Country

Tues 02.09.14. Pierce Pond, a Glenmore Station wetland by Lake Tekapo, off Godley Peaks Rd, we watched 55 rare black stilts / kaki being released. Black stilts are raised in captivity at the DOC Breeding Centre near Twizel.

DOC staff, volunteers, members of the public, girl Guides from Geraldine & school groups from Waituna School & Lake Tekapo School attended the release. DOC staff laid the black stilt, release boxes in a line by Pierce Pond then school children simultaneously released the black stilts.

With excited chirping the 2-9 months black stilts flew up in groups, then flew around the wetland looking for feeding & nesting sites. DOC staff had already laid plates of food on grass around the wetland. Staff said they would return periodically to feed the black stilts & check on them.

Each black stilt had an aluminium ring on one leg for ID & research purposes. DOC staff said only about 30% of black stilts would survive predators like feral cats, stoats & hedgehog egg thieves. Black stilt eggs are brown with dark green speckles. Without culling predators, DOC was dumb supplying stilt snacks for predators. The wetland fence was predator proof, but that didn't stop black stilts nesting & breeding elsewhere, in wetlands around Lake Tekapo, below Two Thumbs Range in the east & Stevenson Range, Gammack Range & Hall Range in the west.

A DOC info sheet read: 

Black stilt / kaki  - Rarest wading bird in the world - population fluctuates - generally around 80 adults. Once found throughout NZ but now only in Mackenzie / Waitaki. Lay 3-4 eggs. Feed on mayflies, caddis flies, midges, water boatmen, snails & small fish. 

DOC staff said black stilts were at The Cairns golf course in Lake Tekapo town. I walked around The Cairns golf course many times, but saw no black stilts there. Paradise shelducks & mallards yes, but no black stilts.

Coda: July-Sept 2016, when we lived on Mt Gerald Station, NE end of Lake Tekapo, we saw adult kakis foraging in shallow, fast running waters by Coal River delta, which joined waters flowing from Mt Gerald streams & McCauley River & Godley River waters flowing into Lake Tekapo. On Mt Gerald Station wetlands, DOC staff placed predator traps to catch weasels & stoats.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Black stilt / kaki (DOC)


Friday, August 22, 2014

Harcourts / Intotal & Tenancy Tribunal Bond Scam

Did you know that as a NZ tenant you can be taken to court for the following allegations by a Harcourts property manager?

* Dirty oven.
* Dirty kitchen & dining ceilings - fly spot, cobwebs, cooking residue. [Dirty kitchen walls, for appointed cleaner, Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services, to inflate his invoice.]
* Uninstalled kitchen blind. [Owner installed, according to appointed Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services invoice].
* Dirty [kitchen] cupboards, draws [sic Appointed Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services' addition to inflate his invoice].
* Marked bathroom window sill.
* Residue, soup [sic] on bathroom shower walls. [Mould remaining around seals, quite black, suggest removing & replacing, according to appointed Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services, to inflate his invoice].
* Dirty marks on an unnamed wall.
* Replacement of light globes. [Materials purchased - Light globes to be replaced x 4, according to Troy Robertson, Complete Home Services, to inflate his invoice].
* [Light shades, switches & plugs all cleaned, according to Troy Robertson, Complete Home Services, to inflate his invoice].
* Dirty carpets. [Although already cleaned by our own professional cleaner].
* [According to Troy Robertson, Complete Home Services, to inflate his invoice: Carpets to be professionally cleaned  as the carpets are dirty. Lounge carpets are very dirty, some staining still remaining, some parts of carpet has been treated with cheap product which has bleached the stains & has left lighter patches].
* [Bedroom ceilings to be cleaned to remove fly dirt throughout, according to Troy Robertson, Complete Home Services, to inflate his invoice].
* [NB Ceilings required extensive cleaning, fly spots being there a while & some have left staining although all residue has been removed, according to Troy Robertson, Complete Home Services to inflate his invoice].
* [Scrubbed kitchen, laundry & bathroom floor removing ingrained dirt in pattern, according to Troy Robertson, Complete Home Services to inflate his invoice].
* Grass removed from garden beds. [This vanished from Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services' invoice].

Harcourts property manager, Kim Jones emailed us twice more:

* There is a smell of cat urine & claw marks in the middle bedroom, is this historical or caused by your cat? Please advise. [Kim Jones was guessing, an indictment of her 2 previous, so-called inspections when she should've inspected our rental properly & asked us tenants those sort of questions. Her "suspect" cleaner guessed too - According to Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services, to inflate his invoice: Treated cat smells in two bedrooms. Suspect some in other rooms but the two end ones were quite strong].
* The cleaning of all light fittings also to be included on the cleaning list. Light fittings are very dusty & greasy. [There were only 6 light fittings in the shabby rental house & garage. The rest were bare light bulbs].

The above is a composite list of allegations from Kim Jones' 02.07.14 Final Inspection report (after we left 5 Heath St, Burnside, Christchurch) with Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services 23.07.14 invoice, which Kim Jones later emailed us.

Gotta ask why Kim Jones didn't have the integrity to phone, or text us before or after her Final Inspection? Kim Jones had both mine & Leah's cell numbers long before we stopped our tenancy at 5 Heath St. Her modus operandi was suck up to us as tenants before we left, then shaft us after our departure.

Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services' invoice prices: Various cleanings, as above $235; Professional carpet cleaning $175; [Our professional had already cleaned the carpets for $100] Cat smells $120; Light globes $6. Total $536 (incl 15% GST).

Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services invoice total was similar to our bond of $510 (two weeks rent, 2004 prices). Harcourts financial controls are appalling, allowing such a merger between a property manager's inspection list for cleaning & its appointed Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services invoice being so obviously inflated to rip off a tenant's bond. Given Harcourts lax control of Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services invoice & NZ Tenancy Services lodging millions of bucks of bond money from NZ tenants, there were many cleaner parasites syphoning bond money.

Never mind state bureaucracies, like the Tenancy Tribunal sucking tenants' & taxpayers' blood, or old NZ Tenancy Services, now included in the new Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, MBIE, sucking tenants' & taxpayers' blood.

Although most of Kim Jones' cleaning items & Troy Bateman's Complete Home Services invoice items were false, or cherry-picked half truths to steal our bond money, Kim Jones blackmailed us by 02.07.14 email as follows:

The above [sic] items have been noted as not being completed. These items are to be remedied, we are appointing our tradespeople to attend to these, and the cost for this will be sort from your bond...

I have [bullshit] photos of all these items, should you wish to view them.[It's easy to take bullshit photos to make a scam point, which leave out years of cleaning & years of maintenance done by the tenant].

Once I have received the trades persons invoice, I will advise you by email, and send you the bond refund form to be signed.

If you dispute the charges being deducted from your bond, we will be required to file for this to be heard at tenancy services, for an adjudicator to make a ruling...

Kind regards, [Oxymoron].

Kim Jones - Property Manager.

It turned out that any incompetent, unreliable, inconsistent, malicious property manager could take tenants to court, without tenants given the opportunity to remedy the alleged cleaning required, without the opportunity to verify the cleaning done by a Harcourts cleaning contractor & with Harcourts property manager blocking mediation, as she wanted the Tenancy Tribunal to adjudicate a decision & to humiliate us tenants & steal our bond money. What a scam!

Never mind the Tenancy Tribunal being an open court for anyone to attend & Tenancy Tribunal findings made public for 3 years & the potential for Harcourts & other parasites to blacklist our names, making it difficult for us to get future tenancies, when landlords do background checks.

This was our experience with Harcourts property manager Kim Jones, her appointed cleaning contractor Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services & NZ govt, Tenancy Tribunal & MBIE parasites. For cobwebs & cat smells!

Those malicious Harcourts employees wanted to destroy our good reputations. Landlords Graeme & Eleanor Bremner wanted to destroy our reputations with their indifference & using Harcourts to do their dirty work. Two decades ago, as immigrants we'd gone through a long, expensive, selection process through NZIS, including qualifications checks, work history checks, medicals, wealth checks, a NZ Scottish sponsor scam, a SA immigration agent scam, SA & NZ police checks & NZ MAF checks of our containerized possessions, including professional cleaning of our garden tools & electric mower. Harcourts & our landlords wanted to smear our good name in the Tenancy Tribunal.

When we first tenanted 5 Heath St we paid rent above median rent for several years. The longer we stayed at Heath St the better for us as tenants, as our rent stayed static & it was a tenants' market. (I once said the latter to Eleanor). During the 2010-2013 quakes our rent rocketed, as there was a rental crisis in Christchurch, due to low supply of housing & rentals. That led to greedy landlords increasing rents, potential tenants offering landlords ridiculous high rents to oust tenant competitors, thus inflating Christchurch's rental market. Never mind hordes of quake rebuild contractors invading Christchurch for repairs & rebuilds, further fuelling inflation for the limited supply of rentals.

CERA minister Brownlee for many months post quakes denied there was a housing crisis in Christchurch. NZ govt's approach to the post quake housing crisis was laissez-faire - let the market decide.

But the tenant / landlord relationship wasn't just about rent payments, or final cleaning, but more about ongoing repairs & maintenance, which Harcourts & landlords Graeme & Eleanor Bremner conveniently ignored during their Tenancy Tribunal bond scam.

Meanwhile, Leah & I moved our possessions from Christchurch & Lake Tekapo to Fairlie, a busy couple of weeks settling in during Leah's teaching holidays. Luke helped us move one of our 2 trailer loads from Christchurch to Fairlie. Our old computer was bung, so we borrowed a neighbour's laptop to catch up with emails, where we found Kim Jones' Harcourts email about her Final Inspection of 5 Heath St. Harcourts choice of words sounded like a Final Solution, evil.

My 17.07.14 email response to Kim Jones Final Inspection emails:

Dear Kim,

We have been offline since moving to Fairlie.

We left 5 Heath St house, garage & garden in a clean & tidy condition.

Your 3 emails are noted. Most of your observations refer to wear & tear over our 10 year tenancy at 5 Heath St. Although you have inspected the house twice before, it is the first time you have arrived at such conclusions & email reporting.

For the record, a Harcourts man didn't arrive more than once for the first inspection. You then later on changed an inspection appointment because you were sick, then didn't keep that inspection appointment. We received no explanation for your absence despite our inconvenience. You also did not have a house key for several months to do initial inspections. You will recall me asking you at the last inspection if you had a key, you affirmed, then texted me later when I was walking on Harewood Rd asking for a key...

Recently I drove from Lake Tekapo with a key, at great inconvenience & expense as Justine Heyward [Harcourts Administrator] demanded a key, so that someone could look at windows. We have dates on record. A few days after giving Justine the key, I noted that someone had tried to get into the garage as both garage doors, which I had secured, were displaced. (Despite being attended to by Harcourts after my request when you first inspected with photos, Harcourts contractor didn't fix both garage doors properly).

Since Harcourts has managed the the property we have had weird inconveniences. Examples: 


1. A man phoned us & said Harcourts had asked him to phone us about what was needed to be fixed on the property. [What was the point of Harcourts inspections in the first place?]
2. A man arrived at our front door with ladder & liquid soap asking about window cleaning. 

When I finally gave Justine the house keys, I informed her that curtains had been cleaned  & carpets had been professionally cleaned with bathroom windows left open to remove moisture.

Our cat has been living with us at Lake Tekapo / Fairlie since February, long before we had the house carpets cleaned, so your allegations about cat urine & scratch marks are nonsense. [Check how the above cleaning contractor's invoice had morphed Kim Jones' cat urine smell in one bedroom to cat smells in 2 bedrooms & other rooms, although our cat hadn't been in the house for 5 months.]

Regarding light bulbs several lights had not worked properly for years, like in the second & third bedrooms. Like the broken gutter pipes outside bedroom 3, this was mentioned to the owners years ago. The faulty bedroom lights flickered a lot, or didn't work, even with new bulbs. [Funny how Kim Jones & Complete Home Services both call light bulbs, light globes].

On the day I left & the day before when carpets & kitchen floors were professionally cleaned, I took many photos of all rooms, garage & garden, showing  we'd left the property in a clean & tidy condition, so dispute your email inspection report entirely.

BTW we added value to the property by regularly cleaning house & garage gutters & trimming shrubs & neighbour's shrubs & trees overgrowing the garage. We also left a flowering cherry tree & daffodils in the front garden. We left prolifically fruiting lemon tree, nectarine tree & grape vine in the back garden. Years ago after the bathroom was revamped we disposed of the cast iron bath, wall debris & cabinet rubbish which the contractor had left behind. At our own expense we left 3 metal standards propping up the dilapidated garden metal fencing. At our own expense, I repaired the tree house with solid wooden bracing, as the wooden supports were weak, rotten & hazardous. (I informed the owner about this). At our own expense, I regularly did minor repairs to the house, replacing tap washers, replacing washing line & broken toilet seat, fixing window fasteners.

Mark JS Esslemont

Copies sent to [owner] Eleanor Bremner & Harcourts senior management.  

That stimulated Kim Jones to file a claim against our bond with the Tenancy Tribunal.

Breadwinner Leah's 17.07.14 letter to owners Graeme & Eleanor Bremner:

Dear Eleanor & Graeme,

Enclosed is a copy of the communication sent to Harcourts.

Over the [10.5] years we were at [5] Heath St, we felt there was a lot of goodwill and mutual respect between us. We treated it as our home and kept it as well as we could, seeing to minor repairs ourselves whenever we were able to.

Our [approx 10 months] relationship with Harcourts from the start has been stressful and sometimes upsetting. The man who initially made contact with us was abrasive over the phone. [Leah had to deal with all our phone calls as I'm profoundly deaf]. He then made appointments and either didn't turn up or arrived up to an hour late. At times I had left work early to be at home for these appointments. 

When Kim took over from him, she also made an appointment which she was too ill to attend. She sent me a text giving a changed appointment and never kept it - We were never informed why she didn't arrive. I likewise made arrangements to adjust work for this.

Over the time the property has been managed, many of our interactions with them have been unsatisfactory - When someone was sent to fix garage doors, they remained unable to be secured.

After having rent smoothly paid for many years , we were contacted about a week after they took over, saying we had rent in arrears. [Harcourts administrator, Justine Heyward]. Once more, this was distressing and I took time away from work to go to the bank, only to find that our rent had been paid. - This was why we disputed a communication from them [Justine Heyward] at the end of our stay at Heath Street, saying rent was owed. Unfortunately for us, on checking, we had made an error and then paid the final week owing. Sorry for that!

At one time I had a phone call from a man who said that Intotal at Harcourts had asked him to find out from us what things needed fixing! [Again. What was the point of Eleanor's & Kim's property inspections?]

When [2] home inspections have been done, prior to us living in Tekapo, Mark was usually at home. Since then, there appears to be an issue with a key. We were recently phoned [Justine Heyward] and asked for a house key for someone to see the windows. Mark drove to Christchurch to give them a key! [Over 400 kms return]. 

During the 9 plus years, [sic] we have made adjustments due to wear and tear. For example, replacing shower curtains, replacing the cat flap and replacing the toilet seat when it broke. We also purchased a new blind years ago because we saw one at a sale and the one in the kitchen was faulty - As we didn't like using a blind, we stored the new one and left it at the house for you. Harcourts now want to charge us to put this in place.

We understand that having left the property with property managers, you wanted someone else to deal with these things. However, you also asked us to let you know if we were unhappy. 

From our viewpoint this is the first experience we have had of property management [in NZ. In South Africa, Wakefields managed our investment, rental property in Durban]. We have spoken to friends who have been in a number of managed properties. They assure us they have always been treated with courtesy and respect by the property management people at other places who they have dealt with. This has not been our experience.

Sincerely, 

Leah and Mark Esslemont. 

No response from owners Eleanor & Graeme Bremner.

While we waited for Kim Jones' Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services invoice to arrive, I wrote a 14 page memo to Kim Jones & Justine Heyward, copied to owners Graeme & Eleanor Bremner. I titled the 04.08.14 memo: 5 Heath St , Burnside, Bond Transfer & Tenancy Ongoing Care, Repairs & Maintenance (10.5 years).

A shortened Description of 5 Heath St: On our arrival in 2004, Graeme & Eleanor's 3 bedroom rental was old, cold, damp, grubby & shabby, with peeling wallpaper & wooden windows in dire need of a coat of fresh paint. Owners junk, like concrete rubble & metal, was left in the back garden & stuffed between the garage wall & a neighbour's fence.

Front & back wooden doors, both had weak door locks. The weak back door needed a coat of paint & had a dodgy cat flap. Glass panes on the front door needed new putty. The double garage side door & main door also had weak locks.

White enamel paint peeled off scuffed, wooden skirtings in all rooms. Most of the old wall paper & ceilings were painted white or cream. One bedroom's walls were lime colour, with a ghastly aeroplane frieze. Another bedroom's walls were powder blue. There was adequate kitchen drawer & cupboard space, but the cupboard doors were either painted purple, or white, a ghastly combination. Laundry cupboard doors were also painted purple. Bedroom cupboard space was inadequate. (For 10.5 years, we stored many of our possessions in boxes in the garage).

One bedroom cupboard was covered with a maroon curtain, likewise the linen cupboard in the passage was covered with a pastel curtain. Other inadequate bedroom cupboard doors were painted yellow & powder blue, more ghastly combinations. Only 2 rooms had thermal curtains leaving a cold house. Above the kitchen sink was a faulty, filthy Venetian blind.

The house was so cold that we used our own net curtains as backing for the landlords' cheap curtains. That gave us some warmth & some privacy from snoopy neighbours. We also supplied our own net curtains for the kitchen window & wood & glass front door.

The house had no underfloor heating, or fireplace, or heat pump. The main bedroom had a wall heater below a maroon curtain, but we never used it as it was a fire hazard. The passage had a fire alarm by the linen cupboard. The lounge, passage & 3 bedrooms had blue wall to wall carpets.

The TV aerial was on the roof above a bedroom. The lounge TV jack was loose on our arrival & was replaced. One bedroom plug blew up & was replaced. Mod cons were sparse: a faulty stove which was replaced by owners after 5 years; 3 phone jacks. Only the kitchen, lounge, toilet & laundry had cheap, plastic light shades. Other rooms had bare light bulbs. Two bedrooms had faulty lights, which either flickered when switched on, or didn't light up at all. Those faulty lights were never fixed by owners during our 10.5 years tenancy.

Kitchen taps leaked & the toilet cistern pipe leaked. Wooden wall boards between toilet & laundry were loose. The toilet wall board had a dark stain where the toilet outlet pipe had leaked. That crap stain remained during our 10.5 years tenancy. Not exactly The Ritz.

Kitchen, laundry, bathroom & toilet floors were covered with pinky or blue lino. The shabby bathroom was revamped after a couple of years, but we endured contractors' noise for a week & their construction debris left in the back garden. Greedy owners gave us no rent reduction during the construction period.
 
Like the house, the garage had cream-coloured, aluminium cladding. The house roof had red grit, tin tiles. The garage had brown-coloured, corrugated aluminium, roof sheeting. There were 2 garden taps, one protruding from a bedroom wall into the back garden, one protruding from the kitchen wall into the front garden. The wooden postbox was on the corner of the picket fence by the driveway entrance. The garage had a broken window pane which was boarded on our arrival. One of the bedroom window panes was cracked on our arrival & was never fixed during our 10.5 years tenancy.

Behind the garage was a rickety tree house & a rickety, aluminium, garden shed which we never used. The back garden had a corrugated iron fenced enclosure for composting, with rotten, wooden fence supports & rickety metal gate. Two metal gates, at sides of the house, separated back & front gardens. On one side of the house, a gravel & cracked concrete driveway went to the garage.

On the other side of the house, a concrete slab went to wooden decking at the back door. A green nylon awning, suspended by nylon ropes, covered the back decking. During quake times, I mentioned to owner Eleanor that the ceramic drain pipe was broken below the gutter down pipe going under the decking. True to form Eleanor said nothing. I thought a lot of storm water drained under the decking into the front garden, which was evergreen. Every spring & summer I trimmed shoots growing through the decking. Flax, rose bushes & a camellia shrub in front of the decking fence grew prolifically during our tenancy, requiring annual pruning. Never mind flax fibres ruining my electric mower blade when I mowed the front lawn. The ceramic drain pipe wasn't fixed during our tenancy.

Like the paint peeling windows, gutter down pipes peeled white enamel paint. The shabby house was never painted during out 10.5 years tenancy. One of the gutter down pipes was broken on our arrival, held together with electrical tape & for most of our tenancy lay on the concrete slab near the back decking. Owners didn't fix it despite Eleanor's inspections over the years.

Back yard fencing painted brown, needed a fresh coat of paint. Front yard picket fencing was OK, painted red. When we arrived in 2004, the garden was dessicated with dry, brown grass. The garden was filled with trees & shrubs, needing regular trimming & pruning.

5 Heath St house was badly designed, as a snoopy neighbour's back door & kitchen window overlooked 5 Heath Street's decking, back door, laundry, toilet & bathroom windows. Privacy of sorts was provided by a low wooden fence, the awning & a camellia bush growing in front of the bathroom window. The camellia bush was a fast grower & had to be pruned several times a year.

On an early visit by us to the property, before we tenanted, owner Graeme was weeding the gravel driveway & Eleanor was fretting about Korean tenants not telling her water was pouring from a laundry wall pipe onto the back decking. Those early impressions showed us that the house & garden were high maintenance.

Over our 10.5 years tenancy we paid Graeme & Eleanor Bremner over $142 000 rent.

If the reader made a list from the above 2004 property description, about all the early faults in the shabby house we rented from Graeme & Eleanor, the reader will understand how outraged we are receiving cleaning slurs from Harcourts. True to form, owners Eleanor & Graeme remained passive & indifferent through the whole Tribunal farrago.

Some extracts from my memo:

5 HEATH ST, RENT INCREASES BY OWNERS & SOME OF OUR TENANT INTERACTIONS WITH HARCOURTS PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

There were 2 rent increases by owners during the inflated rental market, caused by earthquakes 2010-2013. We paid good money for a small, old, cold, shabby house.

Recent property management by Harcourts just inflated our rent more.

When first asking for a rent increase owners' 14.04.12 letter stated, "We very much respect that you are very reliable tenants & we certainly hope that this does not affect your decision to continue your rental with us..." The second rent increase was mismanaged by Harcourts.

Prior to Kim Jones' Final Inspection, after we left 5 Heath St on 24.06.14, Justine Heyward had posted us a letter dated 03.06.14, acknowledging our tenancy ending on 27.06.14 & included a Final Inspection Guide list, which didn't mention anything about cleaning ceilings, light fittings or light bulb replacement, which were referred to in Kim's Final Inspection email, dated 02.07.14. We cleaned & tidied everything according to Justine's Final Inspection Guide list, as we'd received no formal guidance from Kim about cleaning.

After Kim's 2 inspections on Nov 2013 (approx 15 minutes, late afternoon, "The house is good") and May 2014 (approx 45 minutes) Kim did not send us any written reports nor guidance, about her 2 inspections, so we had no idea of Kim's inspection requirements, nor standards. Neither did Kim verbally, by text, or phone give us any negative feedback regarding her 2 inspections. Prior to Kim's final inspection, suffice to say at Kim's initial form-signing visit to 5 Heath St on 18.08.13, Kim said she wanted the toilet well cleaned, which we obviously did.

My wife Leah could not attend Kim's Nov 2013 & May 2014 inspections as she is breadwinner. But I made myself available to Kim at both her inspections. In hindsight, I now know Kim didn't have a workable house key for 5 Heath St. Without our tenants' presence how did Kim think she could do any house inspections at 5 Heath St, when Kim knew she didn't have a workable key for 10 months?
[And why didn't Kim ask the owners for a workable house key?]

Kim will recall on her May 2014 inspection, before I left the house for a walk to Papanui ANZ bank (my car was being serviced that day) I asked Kim twice whether she had a key to lock up when her inspection was complete. She affirmed, but about half an hour later when I was walking on Harewood Rd, Kim texted me asking for a house key, as her's didn't lock the house front door. (Kim actually wanted me to stop my business & return to lock the house while she waited for me!) I texted Kim to close the door & go, which she did. After I returned to 5 Heath St I texted Kim saying the  house was OK. Kim replied, relieved, saying she was "very worried." That text conversation can be retrieved by telecom.

Kim will recall on 04.06.14 that Justine phoned my wife at Lake Tekapo, demanding a house key for someone to see windows at 5 Heath St. Why didn't Justine demand a house key from the owners who lived closer to Christchurch? I drove over 200 kms from Lake Tekapo to Christchurch to give a house key to Justine on 05.06.14. Justine made a copy of the key. I'm still waiting for a key receipt. 

Days later, on one of my weekly trips from Lake Tekapo to Christchurch, I found that someone had tried to enter the garage, as both side & main door were displaced - securing stone & bricks, concrete & iron pipe were displaced. The side door wasn't closed properly.

As Harcourts property management of 5 Heath St was only in the last 10 months of our tenancy, Kim Jones could not possibly know all the improvements, repairs & maintenance we did to the house, garage & garden, using our own labour, money, tools & expertise. Before arriving in NZ, we owned several properties in South Africa & looked after 5 Heath St as if it was our own. Of course owners Graeme & Eleanor Bremner knew that, but used Harcourts to lose our goodwill. 

After owner Eleanor brought a Harcourts man on an early inspection, she asked both Leah & myself, separately, if we could dob in Harcourts if we were unhappy with Harcourts. We felt manipulated between owners & Harcourts. We only informed the owners about our Harcourts grievances in a letter dated 17.07.14 [above] after we received Kim's Final Inspection email.

After our departure from 5 Heath St, Kim emailed her Final Inspection cleaning list to us, dated 02.07.14, a concocted list of cleaning allegations, cherry-picked by Kim to steal our bond money, to enrich Harcourts appointed contractor, Complete Home Services. Kim did not give us the opportunity to remedy her Final Inspection list. That is corrupt.

Before leaving 5 Heath St on 24.06.14, I took many photos of the clean & tidy condition we left the house, garage & garden. In fact for the last 5 months of our tenancy, since Leah & I moved to Lake Tekapo in February, I commuted from Lake Tekapo to 5 Heath St, on average once a week & stayed there 1-3 days at a time. I mentioned this to Kim during her May 2014 inspection. My  purpose was to relocate our possessions from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo. So whenever I moved any of our possessions at 5 Heath St, furniture, etc, I did frequent cleaning - dusting of walls, skirtings, window panes & window sills, cleaning carpets, cleaning bath & basin & shower area, cleaning toilet, cleaning sinks & garage, etc. I also did frequent gardening & tidying of the garden & garage. Whenever Leah returned to Christchurch to lecture, she did the same. So before our departure on 24.06.14, ongoing cleaning & tidying of house, garage & garden had happened for 5 months. prior to Kim's Final Inspection.  

Example of our cleaning care: About 2 months before we left, after cleaning out linen & bedroom cupboards, I placed sprigs of lavender from the garden into each cupboard, including a kitchen cupboard, to freshen up the cupboards. We removed the lavender before we left. 

When we were at Lake Tekapo, friendly neighbours kept an eye on 5 Heath St, collected our post & returned Council bins back to the garden after Friday refuse collections.

Despite our son Luke being blasted out of his girlfriend's house in a recent storm, roof partly blown away at New Brighton, our sons did not stay at 5 Heath St during our Lake Tekapo sojourn. (We'd asked Eleanor if Luke & girlfriend could stay at 5 Heath St, but declined Eleanor's offer for them to stay). Our sons rented elsewhere.

My photos show we left 5 Heath St in an exceptionally clean & tidy condition. Our cleaning repairs, maintenance & care of the property over 10.5 years went way beyond mere calling the owners to come & do repairs. We did minor repairs & maintenance ourselves, at our own cost. If we'd called the owners for every little thing that was wrong with their property they would've had to travel to Christchurch much more over the years.

IMPROVEMENTS, REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE WE MADE TO 5 HEATH ST HOUSE, GARAGE & GARDEN DURING OUR 10.5 YEARS TENANCY (Our own labour, tools & expense, excluding rent)

The following house repairs & maintenance, some done by us & some done by owners & their contractors, gives an idea of the dilapidated, shabby state of the rental we lived in for 10.5 years.

... [Regarding the above mentioned water pouring from the laundry wall pipe onto the back decking, the flooding was] soon fixed by owners, but over the years water stains appeared on the kitchen ceiling, despite patch painting done by owners after that flooding repair.

Need for house & window painting already described. We regularly dusted loose enamel paint flakes from window sills during our 10.5 years' tenancy. Sunlight aggravated the window sill paint peeling & paint flake problem, causing cracking of window sill paint & more dust. (What toxic lead poisoning did we inhale from that loose paint over the years?) But the owners knew about that & Kim would've seen that hazardous paint dust during her inspections.

We endured 2 EQC inspections with owner Eleanor present at 5 Heath St. It would be interesting to know EQC payouts to the owners?

In 2004 on our arrival at 5 Heath St, wooden boards covered the garage, broken window pane. After a while a board rotted causing rain to puddle the garage. I replaced it with another board, then later repaired the window gap with corrugated iron found amongst junk by the garage. That stopped water damage to the garage interior. Years later when owner Eleanor asked about the iron sheet, I told her why I'd repaired the broken window gap. Owners seemed content to leave my repair as is. 

[On one of Eleanor's later inspections she again asked what happened to the garage window? I though she was going senile, as she'd inspected the house, garage & garden many times over the years. Whenever she came, I told her the garage was open for her to look. I explained once more].

At Kim's Nov 2013 inspection I asked Harcourts to repair the glass pane, which Harcourts did. In other words that garage window didn't have a glass pane for at least 10 years.

Worn garage door locks & latches: Both garage side door & main door blew open during the Sept 2013 gale, which blew down oak trees in nearby Guildford St & blew down birch trees in nearby Greers Rd & Clyde Rd. The gale finished off the garage worn door locks. At Kim's Nov 2013 inspection I asked for Harcourts to repair the worn locks. A Harcourts contractor tightened screws which soon loosened. Thereafter, till the end of our tenancy I secured the garage doors with barrow, bricks, stones, concrete & an iron pole. So much for Harcourts appointed contractor repairs!

During autumns & winters, as there were no mod cons in the house, like heat pump, heating or log burner, we had to daily open windows & wipe condensation off window panes to stop unhealthy mould growth, wood rot & curtain rot. All users.

Aluminium & perspex wind vane made by [son] Jake - left above garage main door. 

Years ago, as the garage main door wasn't opening & closing properly, after our request, owner Graeme fixed rivets on both sides of the garage main door.

Wooden letter box & front wooden picket fence was fire-bombed late one Guy Fawkes night early in our tenancy. If I hadn't seen & extinguished the blaze, the fire could've had serious consequences, as the picket fence was connected to other wooden fences, connected to the back decking & house. My family was asleep in the house at the time. Owners covered cost of a new metal letterbox & red paint for the fence. I installed the letterbox & painted the scorched fence. We left a bucket of red paint in the garage. We also left a "No Advertising Material" aluminium sticker on the letterbox to foil junk mailers. That sticker stopped most junk mail.

Leaky kitchen taps were replaced by owners' contractor after our request.

Leaky toilet cistern pipe was replaced by owners' contractor, after our request. He didn't put in the washer, leaving a worse leak than the old pipe. Our son Luke installed the washer to stop the leak. (I informed owner Eleanor about this).

Replaced worn tap washers when needed - Mark.

Replaced worn & broken, white toilet seat - Leah.

Fastened loose window catches when needed - Leah.

Fastened loose, white plastic & wood door knobs on kitchen cupboard doors & drawers when needed. Several were loose on our arrival - Mark, Luke.

Worn upper door lock on front door, caused door to not lock properly. After discussion with owner Eleanor we started to use the lower door lock & key. In hindsight, I guess Eleanor gave Harcourts the upper door lock key, hence key hassles for Harcourts & us.

When the back door swelled after rains & tilted, it caused the door & lock to stick. I planed the wooden threshold to ease opening & closing of the door. I also installed a top bolt on the inside of the door to ease strain on the door lock. I removed the bolt when we left. Kim would've noticed that top bolt during her inspections. 

After our requests, owners replaced faulty electric wall plugs in lounge & bedroom 3.

Painted the tree house powder blue, installed a carpet & an orange, plastic curtain door - Luke, friend & Leah.

As the tree house was hazardous due to rotten & weak wood piles & bracing we installed stronger wood bracing & piles below the tree house - Mark, Luke. (I later informed owner Eleanor about this).

Replaced worn cat flap on back door 2  months before we left. The new cat flap was never used by our cat - Mark.

Replaced worn washing line - Leah, Mark.

Strengthened wood supports of rickety metal gate on corrugated iron fence in back garden. After wood fence supports rotted, I replaced them with iron standards to stop the fence collapsing - Mark.

After snow storms snapped nylon ropes supporting the green, nylon awning above the back decking, we replaced the nylon ropes. After several breakages, we placed the Council refuse bins under the awning during snow storms, to preserve the ropes & awning. The bins supported the snow tonnage - All users.

Hoovered wall to wall carpets regularly (own Tellus machine) - All users.

Cleaned kitchen & laundry sinks daily - All users. 

Revamp of bathroom by owners mentioned above. Cleaned bathroom plastic bath, basin & shower walls daily. All users. During inspections Kim would've noticed our cleaning cloth over the shower curtain rail. Kim would also have noticed there was no bath soap dish. [Had to supply our own soap dish!] The shower, plastic soap dish in the wall corner was regularly cleaned by me, even underneath - Mark.  

Replaced old, blue, plastic, shower curtain with new, green, plastic, shower curtain before we left - Leah. Over the years we replaced 2 shower curtains due to wear & tear. 

Replaced old, worn, blue curtain with new, blue curtain & white thermal backing in bedroom 3 - Leah.

Stove was regularly cleaned inside & out - Leah, Mark. After our reporting old stove faults, the owners replaced the stove about 5+ years ago (Mentioned above). Kitchen floor boards are weak & wonky below the stove, due to age of the house & wear & tear. If Kim had issues about our regular stove cleaning, she didn't speak up during or after her Nov 2013 & May 2014 inspections.

During early days of our tenancy we bought a new Venetian blind for the kitchen, as the old one was faulty & filthy. As we preferred net curtains above the kitchen sink, we stored & left the new Venetian blind for the owners / new tenants. Now Kim wants to steal our bond money to install the new Venetian blind.  

Regularly swept & mopped kitchen, laundry, toilet & bathroom floors with disinfectant & cleaning liquids - Leah, Mark.

Regularly cleaned toilet. All users. Used Bloo Loo to sanitize cistern water.

Al curtains were cleaned & dried at a professional laundry in the CBD a week before we left. All curtains were rehung - Mark.

All blue, wall to wall carpets were professionally cleaned on 23.06.14, the day before we left. (Receipt copy available on request) - Mark.

Near the end of our tenancy, electricity went off in the garage, caused by a storm. We didn't tell Harcourts, as we'd lost confidence in Harcourts' reliability. If we intended staying at 5 Heath St, it would've been easier to pay our own electrician to fix the garage electricity, instead of dealing with unreliable Harcourts.

3 days before end of our tenancy, on 24.06.14, when I handed house & garage keys to Justine at Harcourts, Hornby office, I informed her the following:
* House clean & tidy.

* Keys handed in to Justine - house, 3 front door, 2 back door; garage, 3 main door, 3 side door. Justine will also have the key copy she made after her demand for a key for someone to see windows. We didn't ask owners for refunds for several duplicate keys we made. Justine didn't supply a receipt for keys.
* Curtains cleaned last week.
* Carpets professionally cleaned yesterday. Left bathroom high windows open to remove wet carpet moisture. (If Justine listened, she could've told Kim the carpets were professionally cleaned).
* Water meter turned off & water pipes drained to stop freezing water damage to pipes.
* Electricity switched off & electricity meter reading noted.

Justine gave me a receipt for part payment of our last rent. Once we realized our mistake about the disputed last week's rent we promptly paid by posted cheque. It was the only time in our 10.5 years tenancy that rent wasn't paid timeously.

I then supplied a list of labour, materials & tools we hadn't invoiced the owners, so far.

5 HEATH STREET GARDEN IMPROVEMENTS & MAINTENANCE DURING OUR 10.5 YEARS TENANCY. Our expense, labour & tools - mainly done by Mark.

In 2004 at start of our tenancy, owner Eleanor said she wanted the front garden clean & tidy, but didn't mind what we did in the back garden.

Gardening was a huge job over the years, using our expertise, electric mower & garden tools, which are now worn out, depreciated & need replacement. Some like rake, lopper, spade, garden fork, were stolen & replaced by us some years ago. 

* Weeded & mowed front & back lawns when needed, using own electric Wolf mower.
* Mowed & trimmed grass verge when needed.
* Trimmed & weeded driveway edges when needed, especially by fences.
* Trimmed grass edging around house, garage & compost fencing when needed.
* Weeded & trimmed grass around flower beds & vege beds when needed.
* Trimmed & pruned shrubs & trees when needed: 1 azalea; 3 pittosporums (fast growers, 1 needed frequent pruning below telecom & electricity overhead cables. Neighbours' tree by the driveway entrance needed regular pruning for the same reason) 1 flax; 3 hebes; 2 deciduous flowering cherries (1 planting, gift from a neighbour) 2 camellias; 1 daphne; 1 St Johns wort (frequent pruning needed as it is close to the letterbox) 1 choisya; 8 deciduous rose bushes (2 died) 1 deciduous plum tree (prolific fruiter & leaf litterer) 1 sage (died) 1 lavender planting; 1 deciduous lemon verbena planting; 1 lemon tree planting (family gift) 1 deciduous grape vine planting; 1 deciduous nectarine planting; mint planting; 3 deciduous ferns.
* All deciduous trees & shrubs needed much leaf litter disposal. 
* One neighbour's sycamore maple - recently axed - was a prolific windblown seeder. I weeded 1000s of sycamore seedlings over the years. His deciduous sorbus tree also sent much windblown red berries & leaves into the garden, requiring my disposal. I pruned overhanging branches from the neighbour's sycamore when needed.
* Another neighbour's sycamore branches overhung the driveway & roof above the front door. It needed frequent pruning over the years of our tenancy to stop car, roof & gutter damage. [After Chinese neighbours sold the house & the house was vacant, I axed most of the sycamore pest by the driveway]. Later Indian neighbours pruned that sycamore.
* Never mind autumn raking & disposal of windblown oak leaves blown into the garden from Guildford St.
* Trimmed numerous shoots from neighbour's trees growing through the back decking.
* Disposed of tons of garden refuse, either by using Council green bin, or mainly composting in the back garden. I left approx 10 cubic metres of rich compost in the back garden, vege beds, filled with seed potatoes & pumpkin seeds for the owners / next tenants. Compost was enriched by our kitchen organic waste, occasional kelp & horse dung additions (Leah) & commercial compost.
* Disposal of fallen plum tree branches after the Sept 2013 gale.
* Disposal of rusted, half iron trellis for front garden, pink climbing rose (needed frequent pruning).
* Repaired driveway ruts, which formed puddles after rains. Added soil or shingle as needed. During Kim's Nov 2013 inspection, I pointed out bits of broken concrete driveway close to a gutter down pipe, as I was concerned gutter rainfall flows would undermine the driveway & house below overhead telecom & electricity cables.
* Put small stones at bottom of gutter down pipes to stop mud.
* On our arrival in 2004 there was lots of junk in the back garden: a heap of concrete rubble; wood; car tyres; metal; bricks; polystyrene wall panels. We disposed of some. The rest is still beside the garage by a neighbour's fence. We lived with the owners' junk for over 10 years. Never mind the visual pollution of a hoarder, neighbour's junk on his shed roof, which stayed in situ for rover 10 years, despite my complaint to him.
* Soon after our arrival in 2004, I put concrete rubble slabs by the garage main door to ease car entry, as the garage concrete floor was above soil level. The concrete slabs also stopped car tyres bringing mud into the garage. I informed owner Eleanor of this.
* Swept the garage floor daily.
* Soon after our arrival, I rearranged the concrete rubble heap as flagstones beside the tree house, to stop mud caused by neighbour's overhanging trees.
* Watered garden when needed... Garden grass was always green after our care. Grass cutting mulch & composting helped.
* Cleaned decomposing leaf litter & sycamore seedling debris from house & garage gutters when needed - bucket loads of decomposing, organic debris at a time. If I hadn't done that there would be much more rust & damage to the gutters now.
* Garden plantings, as mentioned above. Our own expense, labour, tools:
* Mint planted by house back wall - Leah.
* Daffodil bulbs planted below flowering cherry in front garden corner - Mark. 
* Crocosmia corms planted in some front & back garden flower beds - Mark.
*  Seed potatoes & pumpkin seeds left in the back garden composted, vege beds (approx 10 cubic metres of compost left) - Mark.
* Ornamental cherry tree, neighbour's gift, planted by front garden fence - Mark.
* Lemon verbena bush & lavender bush plantings, latter planted from a cutting brought from Halswell by Leah. Replaced dead sage bush in back garden. During Kim's May 2014 inspection, she remarked on the lavender bush, but made no comment about the beautiful grass tufts alongside. Now Kim wants to steal our bond money for an appointed contractor to remove the grass!
* Nectarine tree, prolific fruiter, in back garden, planted from seed by Leah. The nectarine tree was planted in a raised flower bed, which former tenants had used as a grass cutting dump.
* Grape vine on back fence, prolific fruiter, planted from seed by Leah.
* Lemon tree, family gift, prolific fruiter, planted behind garage by Leah.
* We also planted an apple tree & an orange tree, but axed them as they were fruitless.

Our gardening care, expertise & labour added value to the property for the owners.

I then supplied another list of labour, materials & tools we hadn't invoiced the owners. Not yet.

CONCLUSION

What is happening about our bond transfer?

No response from owners Graeme & Eleanor Bremner.

Only after receiving this memo did Kim Jones wake up & email us Complete Home Services invoice, as compared by me with Kim Jones Final Inspection list above. This email exchange followed:

Kim Jones 07.08.14 email:

Please find attached cleaning charge.
Please advise, do you accept this to be deducted from your bond, or do you wish to have this heard at the Tenancy Tribunal? 

[This was the first time Kim Jones ever mentioned a Tenancy Tribunal to us, only after we'd left 5 Heath St of course. Harcourts has obviously got away with this bond scam before. A willful setup, where despicable scammers use the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 to bait, by inspection omissions & hook tenants, after Final Inspections, into bond scams, processed by Harcourts & the Tenancy Tribunal].

Bond held at Bond Centre is $510
The cleaning account $536.00 [Similarity between bond & Complete Home Services invoice is too good to be true!] 
A balance of $26.00 

Please advise

Kind regards, [Huh?]

Kim Jones - Property Manager

Intotal Property Management

Our email response, 08.08.14:

In response to your email:

We do not accept that the charges be deducted from our bond. We want this to be heard at the tenancy tribunal...

After more emails, I asked to see with my own eyes what cleaning was done by Complete Home Services at 5 Heath St.

Kim Jones' 10.08.14 email response:

We are not in a position to allow you access into or even onto the property (5 Heath St). There is a new tenant now living in the home, so access is now out of the question.

Regards Kim.

There's an Afrikaans saying summing this up: "n Huis agent is laer as kreef kak. A house agent is lower than crayfish crap." 

My 12.08.14 email response: 

It is noted:

1. After your 2 inspections at 5 Heath St, in Nov 2013 & May 2014, you gave us no negative feedback regarding our house cleaning or gardening.

2. Harcourts Final Inspection Guide list, posted to us by Justine Heyward, doesn't mention changing light bulbs, cleaning fly spot from ceilings, nor cleaning light shades. As mentioned before, we stuck strictly to that guide list while cleaning before we left 5 Heath St. Most of our cleaning was progressively done in the 5 months before we vacated 5 Heath St, while I returned weekly from Lake Tekapo to Christchurch to relocate our possessions. 

3. You allowed us no opportunity to remedy your dubious Final Inspection report.

4. You have disallowed us inspecting the so-called cleaning done by your cleaner, who invoiced Harcourts for what we already did - cleaning all drawers, & cupboards, all floors & carpets, all curtains, all walls, all window sills, all switches & plugs, stove, bathroom. That you have stopped us seeing what your cleaner did at 5 Heath St is a travesty. That includes your cleaner bleaching carpets, after our professional cleaner had already cleaned all carpets on 23.06.14. Your cleaner's cleaning bed board marks is laughable as there were none.


You & your cleaner referring to cat smells is also laughable, as our cat was with us at Lake Tekapo since February 2014 & you would've noticed a brand new, locked, cat flap on the back door during your May 2014 inspection. You would've also noticed we'd already relocated most of our possessions & there were no cat smells. It's ridiculous that after we left on 24.06.14 you & your cleaner come up with cat smells to charge our bond $120 for cleaning cat smells.  

Funnier still, your Final Inspection report incorrectly spells bathroom soap as soup. Likewise your cleaner's invoice also incorrectly spells bathroom soap as soup. I can assure you your cleaner, we Esslemonts never consumed soup in 5 Heath St bathroom, nor left soup on the bathroom walls.

5. Your cleaner's invoice is vague & not detailed. I have no idea what your cleaner means in the invoice regarding, "etc, etc... suspect..." 

It looks to me your cleaner knew our bond was $510 & invoiced Harcourts accordingly. 

6. Your excuse about a current tenant preventing you allowing us access to inspect your cleaner's dubious cleaning is a cover-up, to rip us off more than 2 weeks rent signified by our $510 bond.

On Monday 11.08.14, I checked out your cleaner's premises at 23 Kirner St, Burwood. It's a quake damaged house & junk yard: heaps of old car tyres & old white ware in the front yard, furniture junk on the front decking, mattrasses stored behind a ranch slider door. The filthy state of the Kirner St premises doesn't give me confidence your cleaner did much cleaning at 5 Heath St.

That Monday, I also looked at 5 Heath St from the pavement: Daffodils I'd planted in the front garden were in bloom. Our new Venetian blind was hanging on a kitchen window. Gutter down pipes were still flaking white enamel paint. Wooden windows were still peeling white paint. Someone had sprayed Roundup on driveway weeds & by the garage door. Above the garage, Graeme & Eleanor Bremner still kept Jake's wind vane flying. Our "No Advertising Material" sign was still on the letterbox. Graeme & Eleanor Bremner expediently kept our "free" improvements to their property.

Along the still rutted driveway, there were empty ceramic pots for pot plants & to cover Roundup yellowing. Next to the pots, Bremners had installed a new heat pump, which our rent had paid for. Like the stove, the heat pump would be depreciating tax write offs for Bremners for years. Pity Bremners hadn't the grace to install the new heat pump during our 10.5 years' tenancy. Their indifference left us cleaning condensation off their windows every autumn & winter in their cold, damp and shabby house. Never mind during our 10.5 years' tenancy our electrical heating bills doubled during winter months. The new heat pump would be inefficient, as Bremners needed to install double glazing on bedroom, lounge, diningroom, kitchen, laundry windows & front & back door windows. Thermal curtains were needed in the main bedroom, lounge & diningroom too.

Thereafter parasitic bureaucrats from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) got involved. Jessica Lovell, case coordinator, 14.08.14 emailed us from Hamilton, inquiring if I wanted a sign language interpreter for the Tribunal hearing (an oxymoron). We told her I needed a loop system at the hearing for my hearing aid, as I didn't sign. When we asked for mediation, Jessica 18.08.14 emailed the following:

I have been in contact with the property manager and they have advised that they would prefer for the application to continue onto a hearing in the Tenancy Tribunal to get a ruling from an adjudicator therefore mediation cannot be attempted.

The hearing will take place on 27th August 2014 at 12.20pm and I will make the request to the Tribunal for the loop system to be arranged.

Via the MBIE, we then received by post, Harcourts paperwork for the Tribunal Hearing. In the end Leah & I decided not to go to the Tribunal Hearing & I emailed Jessica Lovell the following on 24.08.14:

We will not attend the Tenancy Tribunal Hearing at Orchard Rd, Harewood, Christchurch, 27.08.14, 12.20pm, as the the Tribunal will be too costly for us: Travel, over 200 km Fairlie - Christchurch return; Overnight accommodation in Christchurch; Paperwork; Photos; Stress due to my profound deafness in a Tribunal Hearing; Breadwinner wife having to take time off teaching at Lake Tekapo School to attend the Tribunal Hearing.

I will post you a file of emails & letters which Harcourts has obviously not forwarded to you. It covers all that needs to be said by us.

In a copy of Harcourts tribunal application, forwarded to us by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, Harcourts administrator Jessica Heyward's lie is offensive: "** Please note tenant is deaf and has requested a deaf signer.**"

I did not request a deaf signer. I do not deaf sign. I know no deaf sign language.

Given Justine Heyward's lie & the discrepancies between her house Final Inspection Guide list, property manager Kim Jones' Final Inspection cleaning list & Harcourts appointed cleaning contractor's invoice, we doubt Harcourts property management credibility.

Despite Kim Jones's 2 inspections at 5 Heath St, prior to her Final Inspection, Kim never gave us any negative feedback about our cleaning, repairs & maintenance, or gardening, after her 2 inspections.  

Only after we'd left 5 Heath St did Kim Jones email us her Final Inspection report. Which was the basis for Harcourts claim against our bond. 

Kim Jones / Harcourts did not offer us the opportunity to remedy her Final Inspection list, nor the opportunity for mediation...

Given our extremely negative experiences with Harcourts, our migrant friends, who are tenants, will be insisting on being present at Harcourts Final Inspections.

Leah posted the following to the Tenancy Tribunal on 24.08.14: 

We lived at 5 Heath St for more than 10 years and had a good relationship with the owners based on mutual respect and goodwill. In a letter written on 14 April 2012 informing us of a rent increase the owners stated, "We very much respect that you are very reliable and respectful tenants and we certainly hope this does not affect your decision to continue rental with us." (Appendix A - Letter from house owner).

[Golden goose Leah laid weekly eggs in a shabby house. Leah's teaching salary mostly went on paying the rent. WINZ also gave us a weekly accommodation supplement, so Graeme & Eleanor's shabby property was subsidized by NZ taxpayers! Only after our departure for Lake Tekapo & Fairlie did Leah's salary increase, our Fairlie rent dropped & we were able to dispense with WINZ accommodation supplement.]

Harcourts took over the  management of this property in August 2013. This is the first time we ever lived in a house managed by a property manager. We had two house inspections prior to the final house inspection. No negative feedback about our maintenance was ever given to us during our entire tenancy.

When the keys were handed in on Tuesday 24 June, a window was left open to assist in drying the carpets which had been cleaned on Monday 23 June. (Appendix B - carpet cleaning receipt). There were no cat smells in the house at this time. Since February our cat has been living in temporary accommodation with us while working at Lake Tekapo.

When we were emailed by Harcourts on 1 and 2 July with feedback on the final house inspection, we were informed that, "The following items have been noted as not being completed. These items are to be remedied, we are appointing our tradespeople to attend to these, and the cost for this will be sort from your bond." (Appendix C - email from Harcourts). This gave us no opportunity to remedy these items. Neither did they allow mediation which we requested. It appears to be procedurally unfair. 

When we received the invoice for the cleaning organized by Harcourts, there was a significant discrepancy between the items listed after the final inspection and the items invoiced with an increase in the number of items dealt with. (Appendix D - items stated as incomplete by Harcourts. Appendix E - items re-cleaned by their appointed tradesmen). Once more this appears to be procedurally unfair. We were given no chance to check this work which our money is being used for.

We have chosen not to attend the hearing for the following reasons:

- Inequality and stress for my husband who has profound hearing loss and would be excluded from much of the proceedings, even with a loop system in place.
- Costs including travel from our home in Fairlie, loss of earning for the day off work. 

Adjudication is unfair & structurally violent (most emails we received from MBIE were anonymous). The Tenancy Tribunal is a NZ govt set up, siding with landlords to steal bond money from tenants. We were given no opportunity to resolve a simple problem with Harcourts - no opportunity to clean up Harcourts dubious allegations, no opportunity to see Harcourts, Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services dubious cleaning, no mediation. Yet Harcourts wanted to steal all our bond money & more for their dubious cleaning. It left us with a dim view of Harcourts & our former landlords, who stayed silent throughout, despite us posting them copies of communications we had with Harcourts.

An anonymous 24.06.14 MBIE email stated: The Tenancy Tribunal can make a decision even if you do not attend the hearing. Decisions of the Tenancy Tribunal are a public record and will be posted online.

Thanks to Harcourts Kim Jones & landlords Eleanor & Graeme Bremner.

28.08.14, I posted the landlords the following:

...Dear Eleanor & Graeme Bremner,

INVOICE FOR HIDDEN COSTS DURING OUR 10.5 YEARS TENANCY AT 5 HEATH STREET, BURNSIDE, CHRISTCHURCH

Harcourts recent application to the Tenancy Tribunal to clean out our bond money and more at the end of our tenancy at 5 Heath Street, caused us to evaluate hidden costs we absorbed during our tenancy. 

Neither Harcourts nor you as landlords have acknowledged our hidden costs. Of course you have benefited from all our care, maintenance & gardening at 5 Heath Street during our tenancy.

Enclosed is our Invoice for some of our hidden costs at 5 Heath Street. Please pay by bank guaranteed cheque posted to the above address...

5 HEATH STREET, Mark & Leah Esslemont's INVOICE for some HIDDEN COSTS incurred during our 10.5 years' tenancy - January 2004 - June 2014

We did lots of ongoing cleaning, replacements of worn items, repairs & maintenance of house & garage & gardening during our 10.5 years tenancy. This has not been acknowledged by Harcourts nor owners Graeme & Eleanor Bremner.

We are NOT CLAIMING for the following:


* House repair & maintenance tools.
* Timber used for repairing piles & bracing for the unsafe tree house.
* Paint, carpet & plastic curtain for the tree house revamp.
* Timber used for installing a new letterbox after a Guy Fawkes firebombing.
* Our electrician's repairs to the new stove, due to faulty heating of stove plates & faulty stove door liners.
* Some plants we left in the garden, like lemon verbena, grape vine, lemon balm, peppermint, daffodils, crocosmia.
* Garden fork & garden spade stolen from us & replaced by us.
* Cleaning chemicals, cloths, Aqua Lazer steam mop & Tellus carpet cleaning machine.
* Small mats by back & front doors to stop mud in the house.
* Part disposal of junk left by owners at start of our tenancy, like concrete rubble & metal.
* Part disposal of contractors' debris left after owners' bathroom revamp.
* Window cleaning, especially condensation in autumn & winter, 12 lots of house windows at a time.
* Verge mowing & lawn mowing.
* Weeding the garden.
* Trimming, shearing & pruning of grass edges, shrubs & trees & pruning of neighbours' overhanging trees.
* Watering the garden.
* Maintenance of muddy, rutted driveway.
* Garage interior cleaning.
* Wind vane made by our son, left on top of garage.
* Petrol expenses while shopping for house or garden repair & maintenance items.
* Electricity expenses for power machines like Wolf mower & Tellus carpet cleaner.
* Many light bulb replacements.

WE ARE CLAIMING for the following repairs & maintenance, replacements & improvements, especially gardening, we did over the years. Our house cleaning & gardening tools & machinery are worn out after 10.5 years tenancy at 5 Heath St.

Current prices & quotes were obtained from the following sources...

INVOICE  for labour, materials, machines & tools at 5 Heath St during our 10.5 years tenancy, Mark & Leah Esslemont

INVOICE [Individual Quantity, Price & Total not blogged]

DESCRIPTION

* Composted garden refuse left in vegetable beds, 10 cubic metres...
* Seed potatoes left in compost, mainly Van Rosa, 1 kg bags... 
* Pumpkin seeds left in compost, approx 2 pkts...
* Garage & house gutter cleaning (High ladder, roof hazards)...
* House & garage key duplicates...
* Petrol, Lake Tekapo to Chch return, house key required by Harcourts...
* Cleaning, drying & re-hanging of all curtains (Gloucester St laundry)...
* ALL CLEAN professional carpet cleaning, wall to wall carpets, 23.06.14...
* Pad bolt, 150 mm x 10 mm, for back door...  
* Dixine washers for tap repairs...
* Brass screws (Drawers, cupboards, windows, letterbox repairs)...
*  White plastic toilet seat (Sapphire Universal) replacement...
* 4 Way Cat Flap replacement, back door...
* Tellus bags for Tellus carpet cleaner machine (pack of 5)...
* Shower curtain, 2, lounge wall gap, 1, bathroom replacement...
* Blue thermal curtain replacement (DIY Swirl) bedroom 3...
* Venetian blind (Windoware) replacement for kitchen blind..
* Sponge mop (Mopamatic) for kitchen, laundry, toilet, bathroom...
* Mopamatic sponge refills...
* Mopamatic plastic bucket...
* House broom... 
* Plastic dust pan & brush set...
* Large garage broom (Old house brooms recycled to garage)...
* Toilet force plunger, large cup...
* Scrubbing brush...
* Coir mat, front & back door...
* Letterbox aluminium sticker, No Advertising Material...
* Clothes line replacement, 70 m...
* Polypropylene rope, 4 mm d x 12 m, for broken awning repairs...
* Worx electric mower (Our Wolf electric mower is worn out!)...
* Long handle shovel (Stanley)...
* Leaf rake...
* Lopper (Fiskars)...
* Bow saw (Bahco Force)...
* Garden shears (Bahco)...
* Aluminium extension ladder, 1.8 m - 3.2 m...
* Axe (Atlas Trade)...
* Garden hose, 1.8 m x 12 mm (Gardena)...
* Hose fittings pack (nozzle, tap nut, connectors)...
* Wheelbarrow (Constructor)...
* 100 litre plastic storage bin...
* Secateurs...
* Hand trowel (Joseph Bentley)...
* Hand fork (McGregors)...
* Common thyme, Thymus vulgarus...
* Flowering cherry, Prunus shmidisu sakura...
* Lavender, Lavendula dentata...
* Lemon (Mayer)...
* Nectarine (Theo Ching)...
* Mint...

TOTAL   $4226.41

No response from owners Graeme & Eleanor Bremner.

31.08.14. We received an email from Harcourts, Justine Heyward with an attachment from the Tenancy Tribunal justifying Harcourts stealing our $510 bond via Harcourts cleaning scam & we also owed Harcourts an extra $46.44.

Justine's blackmail: The amount is due immediately. Failure to make payment within 7 days will result in further action to recover the debt. This will also incur further charges for collecting the debt...

IMPORTANT: No further correspondence will be entered into regarding the content or outcome of the order. This includes the owner of the property, any staff member of Intotal Property Management and any contractor engaged by us...

Moral: Don't deal with Harcourts Intotal Property Management, as my interactions, related above, proved them to be an incompetent bunch of bond scammers, liars, blackmailers & cheats. Harcourts so-called inspections, every few months prior to Harcourts Final Inspection, proved to be bait for Harcourts big bond catch at the end, justified by the Tenancy Tribunal.

The Tenancy Tribunal's adjudicator, J Talbot's verbiage adds insult to injury. J Talbot selectively misinterpreted Leah's Tribunal letter & didn't mention my submission posted to Jessica Lovell (as elaborated above) & was duped by Kim Jones at the Tribunal. I bet Kim Jones' photos didn't show water leak stains on the kitchen ceiling, nor crap stains on the toilet wall, nor landlords' junk in the back garden, nor windows needing painting, nor broken widow panes, broken gutter pipe & faulty garage & house doors, which we endured for years in Graeme & Eleanor Bremner's shabby rental house.

J Talbot's 27.08.14 ruling: The Bond Centre to pay the bond of $510.00... to the applicant immediately...

Reasons:

1. I have considered the tenant's submissions [Not fully or fairly] that there are discrepancies between the list of landlord concerns emailed to the tenants in early July & the itemised cleaning account dated 23 July. [But J. Talbot does zilch about extra items concocted by Complete Home Services to inflate their invoice to steal our bond].

2. I am satisfied on the [bullshit] evidence of photos provided by the landlord and on the [bullshit] testimony of Ms Jones that in some respects the property was not left in a reasonably clean condition. [In some respects, J. Talbot conveniently ignores the fact that Justine Heyward's Final Inspection Guide list didn't mention cleaning ceilings, light shades, or fly spots. Nor the fact that Kim Jones' previous inspections were paltry & that she'd given us no negative feedback about our cleaning up to her Final Inspection & only mentioned the Tenancy Tribunal after we'd left 5 Heath St]. Further I am satisfied [duped] that the amount charged is reasonable for the work required. 

[Gullible J. Talbot allows Harcourts to scam our bond. Reasonable huh? $235.00 for wiping a cleaning cloth over surfaces already cleaned by us is a scam! J. Talbot conveniently forgets that Kim Jones disallowed us seeing with our own eyes so-called cleaning done by Complete Home Services, for which J. Talbot reasonably wastes our bond money]. 

3. I have also considered the tenant's concerns that they were not given the opportunity to address [remedy] outstanding matters. I note however that the tenants returned the keys on 24 June and that the tenancy ended on 27 June. [Obviously J Talbot has never cleaned wall to wall carpets in winter. How many days do cleaned wall to wall carpets need to dry in winter J Talbot?] There is no requirement for a landlord to give former tenants further opportunity to address [remedy] issues after the end of the tenancy. It is open to a landlord to simply attend to matters of concern [cherry-pick] and seek to prove to the tribunal [bullshit] that they can establish grounds for compensation orders. 

[Biased codswallop! Kim Jones never told us we could be be taken to a Tenancy Tribunal during any of her inspections, neither did Justine Heyward mention a Tenancy Tribunal when she sent her Final Inspection Guide List. J. Talbot expected us to be mind readers! J. Talbot was biased, justifying a cleaning scam & bond theft by Harcourts & Complete Home Services. J. Talbot conveniently ignores one of Harcourts applicant forms which clearly states under Supporting Documents... Notice requiring tenant to remedy breach within 14 days... J. Talbot also conveniently forgets that Kim Jones refused us mediation. Where's justice & fairness in that J. Talbot?]

4. I have considered the tenant's evidence that they carried out carpet cleaning immediately prior to the end of the tenancy. I am satisfied [duped] however on the [bullshit] photographs provided by the landlord that the carpets remained unclean at the end of the tenancy, and on the [bullshit] testimony of the landlord regarding foaming of specific carpet treatment materials that it is more than likely than not [huh?] that urine was present in the carpet in 2 rooms. [Foaming carpets are evidence of urine huh?] I am satisfied that the carpet cleaning and treatment costs incurred by the landlord are reasonable.  

[Reasonable? $175.00 for cleaning carpets already cleaned by us for $100.00, plus $120 for treating alleged cat smells in carpets. That's $395.00 spent on cleaning carpets in 3 bedrooms, lounge & passage. J. Talbot is clearly gullible to bullshit by Harcourts & Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services.   

I'll give you reasonable cleaning J. Talbot: We spent $55.00 cleaning & drying 24 curtains (combined surface area of curtains was larger than carpet surface area) then rehanging the curtains at 5 Heath St. Why does Harcourts, Complete Home Services charge $120.00 for foaming some carpets in a dubious quest for cat urine? Vinegar & baking soda does that much cheaper].

5. I accept the landlord's testimony that 4 bulbs required replacement. 

[J. Talbot accepts any Harcourts bullshit fed by Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services. Charging $6.00 for 4 light bulbs is theft, as bulbs cost 79 cents at Pak 'n Save, or 99 cents at Bunnings. Never mind many light bulbs replaced at our own cost during our 10.5 years tenancy. I bet Kim Jones didn't tell J. Talbot about faulty, flickering lights in bedroom 2, which were faulty for years].

6. If an applicant is wholly successful in their claim the tribunal must order that the other party pay the applicants the filing fee for the application.

Without even looking at 5 Heath St & alleged cleaning, J. Talbot accepts the price of Harcourts cleaning to be the same as our bond. J. Talbot condones collusion of price fixing between Harcourts & its cleaner. What a scam!

Moral: Tenants will have no chance against a biased adjudicator at the Tenancy Tribunal, who sides with the landlord against tenants.

1. Tenants be warned! Your bond will be scammed by Harcourts, justified by a biased Tribunal adjudicator.

2. Tenants be warned: 5 Heath St is a shabby, old rental & you will be treated shabbily by greedy landlords Graeme & Eleanor Bremner. They'll do vague, walkabout inspections, or send their proxy inspectors like Harcourts, but will do few repairs & little maintenance.

02.09.14. My email response to Justine Heyward & Kim Jones:

Your Harcourts communications have proved:

1. The Tenancy Tribunal & adjudicator J. Talbot are biased against tenants & duped by false evidence & false testimony.
2. You are corrupt bond scammers.
3. You are blackmailers & liars. e.g "**Please note, tenant is deaf and has requested a deaf signer please.**" (Last 7 words are false! Like your Complete Home Services invoice, you just made that up).

My communications, the Tenancy Tribunal record, your ill gotten $510.00 & extra $46.44 (cheque in the post) will show others how you, Harcourts, Complete Home Services & landlords Graeme & Eleanor Bremner do business.

Our 10.5 years tenancy with Graeme & Eleanor Bremner was bizarre: I saw Graeme only once when he riveted the garage door. At start of our tenancy, Eleanor said we could contact her adult son at Bishopdale, if we had house problems. We never contacted her son. Any urgent repairs needed, like faulty stove, or faulty taps, or leaky toilet cistern pipe, Leah phoned the Bremners. Eleanor's walkabout "inspections" were ineffectual with no negative feedback, few repairs & little maintenance. When our rent increased in 2012, Eleanor said Graeme had lost his military job & they were travelling to Australia. Leah's rent payments would've paid for their Australian trip.

Over the last 10 months of Harcourts management, Harcourts inspection letters quoted their right to inspect our rental & sniff through our possessions in our absence: If you cannot be present we do advise that we will be exercising our right under Section 48 (2b) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 to enter & carry out the inspection. Even though Harcourts didn't have the correct key! Harcourts "management" included Kim Jones pretending to be friendly during her "inspections" when we were present. Then taking us to the Tenancy Tribunal after her Final Inspection. Then stonewalling our requests to sort out her cleaning allegations with mediation & verifying Complete Home Services' "cleaning."

It's funny that during our 19+ years residence in NZ & 5 tenancies, Harcourts / Bremners are the only property managers / landlords who took us to the Tenancy Tribunal. There were no complaints from our other landlords in Christchurch, Lake Tekapo & Fairlie.

Bottom line: Leah paid indifferent Bremners over $142 000 rent over 10.5 years. To make ends meet, as her teacher salary & extra lessons pay & lectures to teachers pay was inadequate, Leah humiliated herself annually by signing WINZ forms, telling WINZ state nannies her earnings & applying for a rent subsidy, to enrich indifferent Bremners. Over the last year, we've endured humiliations of vague house "inspections" caused by indifferent Bremners & by Harcourts cleaner, Complete Home Services, paid for by our increased rent. We've also endured Tenancy Tribunal rulings by a biased adjudicator, expediently motivated by Harcourts cleaner, Complete Home Services. The Tenancy Tribunal findings are on public record for 3 years. Yet cheapskate Bremners didn't even supply soap dishes for their plastic bath, kitchen sink or laundry.

During the last few months of our 10.5 years tenancy, indifferent Bremners turned against us & Harcourts & the Tenancy Tribunal was their Stasi. Gotta ask why 95% of complaints at the Tenancy Tribunal come from landlords / property managers? Something stinks.

Google search, 5 Heath St:

Burnside, 3 bedroom, $390 pw, Trade Me Property

$390 per week. Listed Fri 11 July, 3.45 pm. Location 5 Heath Street, Burnside, Christchurch City, Canterbury. Available 24/07/2014.

Also on the internet:

RentPrice: Agent Four Seasons Realty Ltd advertised 5 Heath St rent as $390. 

Family home in handy location close to Burnside High, Airport and Jelly [sic] Park.

- 3 Bedrooms
- Large backyard
- Single [sic] garage
- Heat pump

Available 25 July for long term lease.

So after our tenancy, with minimal property improvements, Bremners increased the rent by $95 / week, joining Christchurch's inflated rental market. Inflation was caused by low housing stock in Christchurch due to quake demolitions; real estate agents' greed due to inflated commissions; owners' greed; investor buyers' greed, especially foreign investors.

For the record:

* For over 8 years our 5 Heath St rent stayed static at $255 pw.
* From 11 May 2012, during quake times our rent increased to $270 pw. (Eleanor said that rent increase was due to post quake, rates & insurance increases).
* After Harcourts property management took over, from 25 October 2013 our rent increased to $295 pw. (Eleanor's reason for that rent increase was a trip to Australia).
* On 11/07/14 Trade Me listed 5 Heath St available on 24/07/14 & advertised rent as $390 pw.

That's landlord greed & hyper inflation of $135 pw rent increase over 2+ years. That's a 53% jump in rent in 2 years!

BTW Bremners' 5 Heath Street rental was so grubby & damp when we arrived I soon picked up ringworm. As ringworm spores live in hair follicles my inner thighs were infested with ringworm for 10 years, no matter how I dried myself after bathing, or how much Canesten I slathered on Bremners' ringworm.

As for Eleanor's inspections' thoroughness, early days of our tenancy Eleanor sometimes brought her grandchildren along. On a more recent inspection, I caught Eleanor in our bedroom staring at Leah's jewellry box. I told her our son made it.

As for Harcourts stealing our bond money due to non existent cat smells, etc, Bremners didn't have the integrity to tell Harcourts they allowed us to have a cat at 5 Heath St & that our cat soon polished off the mice infestation at 5 Heath St, without any more mice residents for the rest of our tenancy. Did Kim Jones's bullshitting cleaner, Troy Robertson, Complete Home Services, use carpet shampoo which foams in the presence of rodent excreta, bacteria, viruses & mould spores?

Desmond Morris's book CATWATCHING, Johnathan Cape, 1986, p 37, referred to cat smells:

Each time a cat rubs against a landmark in its territory or sprays urine on it, it leaves a personal scent which immediately starts to lose its power. The decline is at a steady rate and can be used by cats to determine how long it has been since the scent-marker rubbed or sprayed. The repeated visits by a cat to inspect its territory are motivated by a need to reactivate its fading scent signals. 

Given the above & the fact our cat had not been anywhere near 5 Heath St for 5 months prior to Kim Jones's Final Inspection & the fact the house was thoroughly cleaned by us for 5 months, including our carpet & curtain cleaning, prior to our departure, and the fact that I'd installed a brand new cat flap in the back door before we left, how did Kim Jones & Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services find cat smells at 5 Heath St during & after Kim Jones's Final Inspection? As for gullible J Talbot at the Tenancy Tribunal only J Talbot knows how?

On 17.02.11 in the presence of Eleanor, 2 EQC inspectors inspected 5 Heath St for Sept 4 quake damage & aftershocks damages. Eleanor told us the property had $10 000 worth of quake damage, including roof truss damage. On 01.12.11, post Feb 22 & June 13 quakes, an overpaid, young, EQC inspector inspected with Eleanor. Eleanor said Fletchers would inspect the house again, before any quake repairs were done, then we'd have to vacate the house when quake repairs were done.

No EQC inspections were ever done under the house to look at foundations. In June 2014, when we finally left 5 Heath St, absolutely no inspection by Fletchers, nor quake repairs had been done at 5 Heath St. We'd endured about 15 000 quakes in that shabby rental with no quake repairs whatsoever.

Another hassle: there's a state house (Housing NZ) across the road from 5 Heath St. Over the years one of the tenants was a nuisance - knocking on our door, wanting to borrow our things like telephone & mower, or wanting me to fill up empty gas bottles; fighting with neighbours; errant offspring & loutish, thieving friends; cops knocking on our door for information about the state house tenant; state housing vehicles & state housing contractors parked in Heath St. At one point I gave my own trespass order to the state house tenant, to stop the nuisance tenant pestering us with door knocking & wanting to contact our teenage son without our permission.

28.02.15. On one of my Christchurch trips, I drove past 5 Heath St & saw that the window exteriors, sills & gutter down pipes were recently painted. I wondered what J. Talbot at the Tenancy Tribunal thought of that landlord hypocrisy?

Coda: By August 2015 Kim Jones & Justine Heyward were no longer Property Manager & Property Administrator at Intotal Property Management, Main South Rd, Hornby, but did the same jobs at Quality Property Management, Blenheim Rd, Riccarton.

FACEBOOK

A Facebook discussion on Troy Robertson's commercial Facebook page - Complete Home Services:

Fri 20.05.16. Mark Esslemont: Ripoff crook! Remember 5 Heath Street?

Sat 21.05.16. Mark Esslemont: You have deleted my last comment. Please explain how your 2014 itemized invoice to Intotal Property Management (Kim Jones) was the equivalent of my bond for 5 Heath Street, lodged with NZ Tenancy Services (now MBIE).

Sun 22.05.16. Complete Home Services, Troy Robertson: Hi Mark, I'm not sure about your deleted post we have no reason to delete posts. All concerns are taken seriously. [False considering Troy's comments below]. If you would like to call us on... we will be more than happy to discuss this. We have a great name with tenancy and work with a lot of other rental companies. I am really sorry you feel upset about being charged to get your home up to rental standard again but unfortunately you left the property in a bad state and the owner had to pay a lot more before they could rent it out again [BS! The house was in a bad state before we rented: Weak locks on front & back doors & weak garage door locks; poor heating; no double glazing; dodgy electric plugs; faulty stove; faulty lighting; poor curtaining; poor cupboard space; bathroom crap; faulty, leaky taps in kitchen, laundry & bathroom; skirtings & windows needed painting; driveway unsound...] but unfortunately you left the property in a bad state and the owner had to pay a lot more before they could rent it out again. I hope this explains your concern.

Sun 22.05.16. Mark Esslemont: My concern is not explained at all. Neither the landlord nor Intotal did proper inspections at all while we stayed at the property for 10 years, so gave no indication of the standards of cleanliness required. We did not leave the property in a bad state at all. I'm deaf so can't use the phone. Mt home address is... Please explain why your itemized invoice to Intotal was equivalent to our bond? Examples: We had the house carpets professionally cleaned before we left, yet you invoiced for the carpets to be recleaned. There were other items you invoiced. like overpriced light bulbs, cleaning stove which was already thoroughly cleaned... You chose to ignore the fact the house was shabby, needing paint especially ceilings, skirtings. You  ignored the rotten concrete driveway, our replacement of old curtains, my gutter cleanings, compost left in the garden, disposal of junk left in the garden for years by the landlord. There are many more things we did to maintain the house at our own cost.

[Troy Robertson then discredited himself:]

Sun 22.05.16. Complete Home Services. Troy Robertson: Oh wow. Carpets cleaned? By who??? I'm sorry but those carpets definitely had not been cleaned. [Why didn't Troy ask Intotal?] They were some of the filthiest carpets I have done. [Yeah right. Have another Tui Troy]. I do agree the house was older. [So what?] Dude if you were that unhappy why did you stay for 10 years? [Troy avoids my invoice question]. The smell of cat urine in the property was unbearable [Huh?] I had to spray the carpets And come back the next day [So what?] This will be my last comment. Let it go and move on. Nothing can be gained by trying to discredit other people because you left the property in a bad way [?] and the rental company and our company was called to make good. This is not the place to air others dirty laundry. [Troy discredited himself with his invoice evasions]. So like I said you can contact me directly. [Huh?] There are plenty photos say it all [So what?] So let's leave it at that. Life's too short. Learn from your mistakes and  move on so and leave your properties nice and clean. Tenancy, Intotal and Complete Home Services did all they should for the poor owner. That's all there is to say. [Drivel].

Sun 22.05.16. Mark Esslemont: Your evasions are appalling. I've rented in many places in the world & owned several properties in South Africa, with my own tenants in one of the 3 bedroom houses we owned in Durban.

Sun 22.05.16. Mark Esslemont: Please explain the following mentioned by you above: 1. "The owner had paid a lot more before they could rent it out again?" 2. "The smell of cat urine in the property was unbearable?" Our cat had already been living with us in Lake Tekapo for 5 months before you entered 5 Heath Street to invoice Intotal with your cat urine smells. I'd also replaced the old cat flap with a new cat flap so no other cat could enter the Heath Street house. 3. I'm still waiting for your explanation why your itemized invoice to Intotal equalled our bond? Please ask 5 Heath Street landlord why they were happy for us to stay at their rental even after they had increased the rent?

[More drivel & minimising evasions by Troy Robertson:]

Sun 22.05.16. Complete Home Services, Troy Robertson: Sorry Mark an evasion is when you deliberately ignore someone and as you can read, that is not what we are doing. [Risible]. How about you give us or Intotal a call if you think you have been hard done by and we will try to help. We do not accept Facebook post as communication for our business and many of our clients are happy. There is a common denominator here, this "incident" was years ago, it is long gone. If you want to call and have a decent chat instead of a Facebook post conversation please call us or Intotal. In the meantime we will no longer continue to reply to your comments on a public post as that's not how we do business, so either call us or Intotal and talk like adults should. Thanks mate. All the best for  your enquiries.

Mon 23.05.16. Mark Esslemont: Intotal did not want communication after we left 5 Heath Street, in fact forbade it in writing. The landlord did not respond to any of our communications after we left. You evade the fact I'm deaf and can't phone you. You're still evading my questions above, especially your Intotal invoice equal to our bond? You don't have the integrity to answer in writing.

Troy Robertson's Facebook commercial page had many before & after garden pics soliciting good reviews from clients. Below three sets of Oct 2014 pics, Whitby St, Westminster St, Kirner Street, Kim Jones's name was next to Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services' icon. Troy Robertson made positive comments about the garden cleanups.

There you have it: collusion between Intotal's Kim Jones & Troy Robertson's Complete Home Services to thieve bond money from tenants, using biased Tenancy Tribunal adjudicators like J. Talbot.

Troy Robertson's personal Facebook page skites Troy as a fisherman. Hook, line & sinker Troy.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See NZ Tenancy Tribunal

See Rental agents milking tenants (The Press / Stuff Co)

See City rental prices at record high (The Press / Stuff Co)

See Christchurch housing struggle gets worse (The Press / Stuff Co)

See Christchurch's Housing Paradox (The Press / Stuff Co)