‘On-again-off-again’ girlfriend racked up thousands in rent debt while man was in coma

While Jason Lee was in a coma and recovering from an accident that caused brain bleeds, skull fractures and a stroke, his on-again off-again girlfriend racked up thousands in rent arrears at a house he could no longer occupy. Photo / 123RF

While in a coma and recovering from a serious brain injury that left a man unable to take care of himself, his on-again-off-again girlfriend racked up thousands in rent debt at a property under his name.

Lindsay Tickner was ordered to vacate the Torbay flat in Auckland where she accumulated a rent debt of $7320, a sum she now has to pay back to landlords Zhen Gang Xu and Lily Bo.

Tickner had been living at the property months after agreeing to terminate the tenancy, refusing to leave the house and failing to make rental payments, according to a recent Tenancy Tribunal decision.

In July 2019, Jason Lee signed on as the sole tenant on the agreement, paying the full bond on a fixed-term tenancy set to expire the following year.


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Lee signed on again in October 2021, and the address was eventually changed to a periodic tenancy.

Just months later he would get into an accident that caused multiple brain bleeds and skull fractures, and was put into an induced coma because of his extensive injuries.

Tickner, Lee’s “on-again-off-again” girlfriend, had been living at the house for various periods of time during Lee’s tenancy.

In January 2022, Lee was rushed to intensive care and put into an induced coma after striking loose gravel on his skateboard and hitting his head on concrete.


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He then suffered a stroke before needing rehabilitative care. He had not lived at the Torbay flat since the accident, instead staying at the hospital, rehab, or with his sister, the tribunal noted.

Lee’s injuries meant he was cognitively impaired and unable to take care of himself.

Tickner was allowed to live at the property “for a few weeks” after Lee’s accident while she organised alternative housing, but those few weeks would turn into months.

Lee’s family had helped with rent payments but couldn’t sustain the financial toll of paying for a home he was not living in.

Tickner made moves to be signed on as an official tenant of the property, telling the landlord her rent payments would be covered by the Ministry of Social Development [MSD] as a beneficiary.

However, the change of tenant form that was signed wasn’t valid because a signature from Lee, who was still in a coma at that stage, was required.

Rent arrears started to build in September 2022, and because Lee hadn’t been living at the address, this prompted his sister to get his name taken off the tenancy.

She was told by the landlord in order to take her brother’s name off the tenancy, the agreement would need to be terminated altogether.

This didn’t seem to be a problem because Tickner told Lee’s sister in an email in September 2022 that she wanted to move because “Winz is no longer going to help me pay the rent”.

The tenancy was set to end on October 12, and Lee’s sister went and helped Tickner with the end-of-tenancy clean.


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But Tickner did not move out.

“I don’t agree to ending the tenancy and you need everyone [sic] OK,” she told the landlord in an email a week after she was meant to have left.

“Since that time, Ms Tickner has remained in the property and no rent has been paid. It seems there are others also living at the property without the landlord’s permission,” the tribunal decision said.

“Ms Lee (Jason Lee’s sister) says she does not know who these other people are.”

Tickner was found to be a tenant of the property by the tribunal, despite the agreement never being formally completed, and the decision found her to be solely responsible for the thousands owing in arrears.

The tribunal ordered Tickner to vacate the property, and to pay the $7320 in owing rent with an additional $285.75 for water.


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Lee’s landlords said he was an excellent tenant, and the application to the tribunal only came about because of the accident and Tickner’s involvement in the tenancy.

“There is no criticism of either party [Lee or his landlords]; I consider both to have acted in good faith throughout,” the decision said.

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