Auckland Council seeks sale of Bright’s house

A protest that may have gradually got out of hand may now result in Penny bright losing her house.

Council seeks sale of Kingsland property to recover rates

Auckland Council has asked the High Court to proceed with the sale of a Kingsland property owned by Ms Penny Bright to recover unpaid rates and penalties dating back to 2007.

The council obtained a judgment against Ms Penny Bright in the Auckland District Court in January 2016.

Following an unsuccessful appeal by Ms Bright and a statutory six-month stand down period, the council has now asked the High Court to commence the sale process.

“Taking enforcement action to recover unpaid rates is the last resort and happens very rarely,” says Auckland Council’s Acting Group Chief Financial Officer Matthew Walker.

“The council has written to Ms Bright regularly over the last six months offering to resolve this matter. We have also offered to meet with her to discuss rates postponement, which she has declined.

“While we would prefer not to have reached this point, the council needs to be fair to the thousands of Aucklanders who do pay their rates or have a payment plan in place.

“It’s important for property owners to know that there are always options available to resolve unpaid rates without causing financial hardship, including through a rates postponement. As a result, in almost all cases like this, we have been able to avoid taking enforcement action.”

The judgment was for $34,182.56 in rates and penalties outstanding as at 30 June 2015. The council has been awarded total costs in the District and High Courts of $20,329.20.

If an arrangement can’t be reached with Ms Bright and the sale of the property goes ahead, it will be used to recover the full amount of outstanding rates and penalties and any further costs, including real estate agency and legal fees.

The remainder of the proceeds from the sale would be released to Ms Bright through the Public Trust.

Timeline:

Background to Ms Bright’s outstanding rates:

  • Ms Bright stopped making rates payments in 2007.
  • Auckland Council first issued proceedings against Ms Bright in 2011 seeking to recover payment of unpaid rates from June 2006 to June 2011.
  • It obtained judgment by default however that was set aside by the Court on technical grounds.
  • In 2015 the council sought summary judgment for unpaid rates from June 2011 to January 2015.
  • In January 2016, the District Court entered judgment for Auckland Council against Ms Bright for $34,182.56 for outstanding rates and penalties. Costs were awarded in the council’s favour for $13,249.20.
  • In July 2016 the High Court dismissed Ms Bright’s appeal and awarded costs in favour of the council for $7080.00.
  • In March 2017 the council applied to the High Court to enforce the judgment by sale pursuant to section 67 of the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 (LGRA).
  • In May 2017 the High Court issued a notice pursuant to the LGRA requiring Ms Bright to pay the judgment sum, costs and all remaining rates due on the property.
  • After a compulsory six-month stand down period, in December 2017 the council requested the High Court to proceed with the sale of the property.
  • Throughout this period the council has continued to invite Ms Bright to make payment or to apply for a rates postponement. No payment or application has been received.

When withholding payments in protest it would be prudent to set aside the money in case you need to pay it, as is very likely with something like rates, but penalties can also grow a debt substantially.

Losing your house is a high price to pay for a highly questionable stand on some sort of principle. The only real loser could ever have been Bright.

 

Foreign ‘speculators’ house ban

The Labour led government has announced it is following through on a policy promise to ban non-residents or non-citizens from purchasing existing homes. Australians are excluded from the ban.

This has support from NZ First and the Greens.

NZ Government press release:


Foreign speculators house ban

Foreign speculators will no longer be able to buy houses in New Zealand from early next year, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“We are determined to make it easier for Kiwis to buy their first home so we are stopping foreign speculators buying houses and driving up prices. Kiwis should not be outbid like this.

“That is why we are introducing an amendment to the Overseas Investment Act to classify residential housing as “sensitive”. This means non-residents or non-citizens cannot purchase existing residential dwellings. Australians will be exempt as New Zealanders are in Australia.

“We expect legislation to be introduced before Christmas and take effect immediately once passed early in 2018. This will fulfil one of our key 100 Day Plan pledges.

“The previous National government chose to put foreign speculators ahead of Kiwi families, but we have chosen to protect Kiwi families and New Zealand’s best interests.

“That government claimed this could not done without breaching other free trade agreements and that a stamp duty would be the only effective tool.

“The advice we have had from officials is that we can give effect to the ban by a simple amendment to the Overseas Investment Act without breaching any agreement except the Singapore Closer Economic Partnership. The options with Singapore will be worked through.

“The proposed change means we can move our focus away from land issues at the negotiating table at APEC when negotiations on the TPP reach their final stages, and focus on Investor State Dispute Settlement clauses.

“We are concerned by ISDS clauses in the proposed agreement. These confer greater rights on multi-national companies investing in New Zealand than a New Zealand company has.

“We remain determined to do our utmost to amend the ISDS provisions of TPP. In addition, Cabinet has today instructed trade negotiation officials to oppose ISDS in any future free trade agreements.

“The change we have announced today are supported by all parties to the government.

“New Zealanders should be assured that the government I lead will have their best interests at heart when negotiating any free trade agreements.”


This was covered in the prime Minister’s post-Cabinet Press conference:

Scarfie house

A bit of nostalgia – the house that featured in the movie Scarfies is up for sale.

ODT reports: Piece of movie history up for auction

If only the walls at 49 Brown St could talk. This Dunedin house on the hill has a colourful history.

It was once a house for refugees after World War 2 and before that, it is believed to have been a brothel.

I lived in that house before Scarfies, I boarded there with the owner family and other boarders in the mid seventies.

49BrownStreet.jpg

I was in the top right room. Many people will have lived at 49 Brown Street.

More recently, the house was used in the film Scarfies, which told the story of five students who moved into an abandoned house and discovered marijuana plants in the basement.

The house is now for sale with Edinburgh Realty and will go to auction later this month, though the basement portrayed in the movie does not exist.

I remember the poky ‘basement’ as the owners did some re-piling work while I was there.

scarfies

As the Scarfies house (the colour I remember it)

Movie details: Scarfies aka Crime 101

Dunedin being Dunedin I’ve also had something to do with the owner of 30 years, both professionally and then later she purchased a different house off me (another old character house).

For years, the outside of the Brown St flat was “very creepy” because the family could not afford to paint it, which made it perfect for the film, she said. But in reality, it was nothing like the sinister flat portrayed in the Scarfies movie.

“The inside was always quite lovely. It was humble, but bright – a very sunny flat with amazing views – views to die for.”

It was old but tidy enough when I was there and yes, great views over Dunedin and the harbour. And a steep climb up many steps each day to get there after work.

“It will be a wonderful opportunity for someone else to own a piece of Dunedin film-making history.”

Nah, not interested.

The house must have been painted recently. If you look at it on Street View from Brown Street it looks very tidy (top photo)…

49BrownStreetSide

…but from the side street it looks more like it’s Scarfie days (and similar but more run down than the seventies).

Couch to house fire was inevitable

A house fire in North Dunedin was inevitable, and it was lucky – this time – that there were no deaths. Police noticed the fire and woke and evacuated sleeping residents.

ODT: House fire caused by burning couch

Raucous couch-burning party-goers in Dunedin have accidentally set a house on fire during their partying, police say.

Officers were called to a large party on Castle Street at midnight, where several hundred party-goers at two houses were spilling on to the road.

While containing the crowd, attending officers saw a fire at the back of a different house, and found the flames from a burning couch had spread to the home’s weatherboards.

Police said the occupants were woken and evacuated, and the officers attempted to extinguish the flames before the fire service arrived to put the fire out.

It had begun to take hold within the exterior wall just as it was extinguished, police said. There was damage to the weatherboards.

Inspector Kelvin Lloyd said that it was very lucky that the fire did not cause more damage than it did.

“This incident highlighted the dangers associated with the fire lighting issue in the student area,” he said.

“This is exactly the type of case we have been trying to prevent through the consistent and on-going messaging of police, fire and the university.”

“We need to stop thinking that this is part of the culture of the area, and accept the very real dangers that this type of offending poses. This is more than high spirited antics and will result in a tragedy or injury if attitudes do not change. “

This was an escalation waiting to happen. Unless some way is found to stop the arson in the student area this will probably end up with a tragedy.

Anyone caught committing arson needs to be dealt with severely.

UPDATE: in this News Hub report a fire person says that the couch looks like it was up against the house when set alight.

Witnesses sought after couch burning spreads to house

“Mixing alcohol and fires is a recipe for disaster”.

Harré on forced selling of housing

Laila Harre was on the Q & A panel last Sunday. She made some extraordinary comments about people being forced to be homeless, and considering forcing people with houses deemed to big for them to sell them.

Susan Wood: Do you think Laila that the Reserve Bank is going where politicians fear to tread around property in New Zealand, and certianly in Auckland?

Laila Harre: Well it’s already indicated it wants to go further than the Government wants it to go and that’s why we see these delays in the introduction of controls on lending to the corporate housing buyers to the so-called investors, but these are very large property portfolios who have had opportunity to increase the size of those portfolios as a result of the LVR restrictions on first home buyers.

I think this problem has become way too complicated for people to connect to.

There’s two basic questions we have to answer.

One is do we think that more people should live in their own houses, as Bernard Hickey frames it?

The second is should there be more serious controls on the rental market in terms of the rents that can be charged, and the security of tenancy?

If we could agree on out answer to those two questions there are endless options for controlling this problem.

The problem is that the Government doesn’t know where it stands on those two issues. It doesn’t know whether it wants more people to live in their own houses. It doesn’t know whether it wants to control the environment for renters.

And we have to answer those two questions before we can get into complicated solutions.

It’s not up to the Government to decide if “people should live in their own houses”, people should be able to choose for themselves whether they rent or own/mortgage a house.

I’ve been in and out of home ownership five times due to personal and financial circumstances. Sometimes I have not been able to afford a house or a mortgage, but I have worked back into a position to be able to buy – at one time with interest rates at 18.5%.

Matthew Hooton: I think we all agree don’t we and I think Olly Newland agrees, Loan to Value Ratios are an appalling mechanism, because they’re the ones that attack people getting into their first home.

Laila Harre: Well…I….I don’t agree with that, I mean the evidence is clear that it has helped to reduce price inflation…

Matthew Hooton: How do we know that?

Laila Harre: Well we know it from the data.

I just want to come back to this obsession with the supply issue, because I think this is a massive red herring in coming up with policy.

We are told by various authorities that there is something between five thousand and thirty thousand shortage of houses in Auckland. Now how can you rely on authorities like that. They cannot agree on whether we have five thousand too few houses, or thirty thousand too few houses, that’s a factor of six. I just don’t buy any of this as being people who understand what the problem is.

Meantime plenty of the people who have the third, fourth, fifth house um for renting out are living in large houses with families who’ve left, and we certainly don’t have a shortage of bedrooms in Auckland.

So you know we’ve got to ask ourselves do we tear up our rural environment to allow people to hang on to large properties in the central city areas without dealing you know with…

Susan Wood: You can’t force people out of their homes, if they don’t want to leave their leafy mansions you can’t force them out…

Laila Harre: Well we have actually Susan, we’ve forced thirty thousand families out of homes. That’s the number of New Zealand families who are officially homeless. So we can force people out of their homes.

We’ve just decided we’re not going to touch those who are in positions of power and influence and have political authority…

Matthew Hooton: …I don’t think it’s politically…I don’t think it’s a likely political position for anyone to take that there would be forced sales of people that own their own homes that were deemed too big for them, I think that would be…

Laila Harre: Oh I don’t know, I could be signed up for something like that…

Matthew Hooton: …I’m not sure, I’m not sure that it would gain more than one or two percent of the vote…

Laila Harre: Well I know all about that too Matthew…

Harre will know about gaining one or two percent of the vote.

It is likely to be something she remains familiar with if she thinks that people should be forced to sell their homes if they exceed a Government dictated quota for number of bedrooms or floor area.

NZ First firmly against foreign ownership

In a Q & A interview this morning Winston Peters confirmed that NZ First had a firm policy against foreign ownership.

Winston Peters says foreign ownership policy unchanged

Winston Peters has sent a strong signal that his party would stop foreigners buying property in New Zealand.

The New Zealand First leader says it has always been the party’s bottom line for NZ housing and farmland to be for New Zealand people. He said he would adopt the same view as China where foreigners cannot buy property but can lease it for 70 years.

Mr Peters told Q+A this morning NZ First doesn’t want NZ land to be “owned by everybody around the world – and absentee-owned at that”.

Edited video:  (Source: Q and A) Winston Peters says foreign ownership policy unchanged (0:46)

Full interview: Peters – Polls don’t tell the real story (11:10)

Peters didn’t quite say this would be non-negotiable post-election but made it clear it was a high priority policy for NZ First. He said people should check the NZ First policy. I checked for policy and other references to foreign ownership.

Policy: Housing

Ensure that New Zealand’s housing stock is restricted to New Zealanders

  • Non-residents who are not New Zealand citizens would be ineligible for home ownership except if a genuine need to do so can be demonstrated.
  • The terms and conditions upon which existing approvals by the Overseas Investment Commission for the ownership of land by non-residents would be fully monitored and enforced.

Policy: Primary Industries

  • An end to land sales to foreign interests, and policies to ensure the retention of the farming sector in the ownership of New Zealand resident and New Zealand farmers.

Policies updated 20 March 2014.
Further updates in the 2014 election campaign.

Members Bill: Land Transfer (Foreign Ownership of Land Register) Amendment Bill

The purpose of this Bill is to provide vital information on the extent of foreign ownership of New Zealand. This Bill proposes a comprehensive register of all foreign owned land in New Zealand. The register will record names and nationalities, the amount of land and value of land, and the regions in which the land is situated. Purchasers will provide the information for the register.

Media Release: Going Going Gone – The Kiwi Family Farm

19.02.2014
Rt Hon Winston Peters

“To allow one foreign company to buy 29 farms is a sin,” says Rt Hon Winston Peters, in reference to the sale of 13 Synlait Farms in Canterbury to a majority-owned Chinese company which was also allowed to buy the 16 Crafar farms.

“This is not foreign investment, it is the transfer of Kiwi wealth in wholesale quantities.

“Many of our family farms are disappearing. Young would-be farm owners are being priced out of ownership as foreigners are allowed to buy-up blocks of farms in one go.

“This Government clearly favours foreign ownership over ordinary New Zealanders and their dreams of doing well on the land.

“It is not a fair go for New Zealanders. There is no reason why these farms could not have been sold individually giving Kiwis a more competitive chance at ownership.

“The end of the treasured Kiwi farm, as the backbone of the economy, is nigh unless we say no to more farm sales to non-resident foreigners,” says Mr Peters.

Media Release: Another Rubber Stamp For Foreign Buy-Up

04.02.2014
Rt Hon Winston Peters

“New Zealand First wants a halt to sales of farmland to non-resident foreign buyers.

Media Release: New Zealand First Says No More Farm Sales To Non Resident Foreigners

09.11.2013
Richard Prosser

New Zealand First is calling for a complete halt to sales of New Zealand farmland to non resident foreign buyers.

Media Release: Go Buy American Farms Harvard

03.05.2013
Rt Hon Winston Peters

New Zealand First has criticised the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) for allowing Harvard University to buy a big dairy farm in Otago.

Media Release: Keep Crafar Farms, Appeals Winston Peters

04.04.2012
Rt Hon Winston Peters

Rt Hon Winston Peters has made a last ditch appeal for the government to keep the Crafar farms in the hands of New Zealanders where they belong.

This confirms a consistent opposition to foreign ownership.

Despite this we will have to wait until after the election before we find out whether NZ First get a chance to negotiate to play a part in the next government, and if they do whether foreign ownership of houses and land is a part of any policy agreements.