Auckland Council considers allowing owner to keep structures housing illegal immigrants. Recent compliance check shows unauthorised plumbing removed. Council unable to remove occupants without Dangerous and Insanitary Building notice. Enforcement action possible if structures still occupied.
The owner of a property in West Auckland may be permitted to keep structures built without consent to house illegal immigrants. Auckland Council had issued a Notice to Fix in response to a Herald report last October, which revealed that up to six Indonesian overstayers had been living on the New Windsor property in a makeshift shed, a chicken coop, and a dilapidated caravan. However, a recent compliance check found that unauthorised plumbing and drainage works had been removed from the shed. The council has no authority to remove occupants from the property unless a Dangerous and Insanitary Building notice is issued, with further enforcement action being considered if the structures are still occupied.
Compliance Check by Auckland Council
A council officer visited the property last Thursday to assess compliance with the Notice to Fix. It was confirmed that unauthorised plumbing and drainage works had been removed from the shed. The shed still appeared to be occupied when visited by the Herald, with a towel hanging outside and used instant cup noodles in a bin. The owner of the main house, an elderly woman, claimed that the council had given consent for the structures to be rented out. The owner did not check the passports or identity details of tenants and therefore did not know if they were in the country legally. The woman stated that tenants would be moving out within the next two weeks, which will be verified by Auckland Council.
Challenges for Illegal Immigrants
The council’s order for compliance has made life harder for the illegal immigrants living in the shed. Their access to water for washing, cleaning, and cooking has been significantly limited, as they now have to use a common laundry area. The tenants are currently searching for alternative accommodation, but it is challenging for them due to their lack of identification and bank accounts. The man who arrived at the property looking for one of the tenants believes the current situation is favourable for the illegal immigrants, as they are lucky to have a place to stay.
INZ and Migrant Exploitation Relief Foundation
The plight of the Indonesian overstayers living on the property was reported to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) by the Migrant Exploitation Relief Foundation (MERF) a year ago. It was alleged that these overstayers had been exploited by a construction company that hired them for work near Auckland Airport. While agencies in New Zealand offer support to exploited migrant workers by providing alternative accommodation, INZ stated that the overstayers living on the property do not qualify for assistance as they are in the country unlawfully. INZ could not comment further without a privacy waiver from the overstayers.