The Correa family from left Anyelly, 14, Yonier, 21, Luis, Nayibe, and Andrea have been separated after their tenancy went sour. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Refugees left out in the cold

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Even when the Correa family faced down kidnappers and threats of violence in their home country they were never separated.

They fled their native Colombia for a better life and managed all that time to stay together.

But now, as former refugees, the family of five has been forced to live separately as they struggle to find accommodation.

It comes in the wake of a two-year tenancy struggle where they lived in a cold and damp flat that the family says exacerbated their health issues.

The tenancy tribunal has recently partially ruled in their favour against property managers Bolitho’s, awarding the family over $1400.

However, now they believe they have been blacklisted – having applied for over 20 properties and being turned down for all of them.

Fleeing violence and persecution, Mother Nayibe says that when they first arrived in Nelson and got the Kawai St flat it felt like they were “born again”.

But soon they discovered issues with the house’s dampness and humidity. Daughter Andrea
had serious breathing issues and father Luis developed an eye infection.

“We are so grateful to be here but just don’t think it was appropriate to be treated this way, especially for health reasons,” Luis says.

They are now struggling to find somewhere else to live and are staying with friends across three different homes.

The Tenancy Tribunal found that there were mould and condensation issues at the premise during the Correas’ stay there, however, it disputed whether the landlord was made aware of it.

The landlord then did some remedial work on the house which meant Andrea had to move to the living room for several weeks over Christmas. It ruled that this was an overstep and ordered Bolitho’s to pay the family compensation.

Terry Bolitho says that once the company became aware of the matter it acted immediately to remedy it in a timely manner.

“We have acted in accordance with best practice; and with integrity throughout this process. We always accept and abide by any ruling from the Tenancy Tribunal.”