Community house tenants fighting eviction ordered to pay $18,000 in a week

Residents of an Auckland community house fighting eviction will have to cough up more than $18,000 by next Wednesday to remain at the property.

Today Justice Brewer issued an order stating residents of Hum Hospitality can stay living at the Grafton heritage building while they appeal a previous court judgment enforcingHum to pay GST on top of monthly rent.

But they must front with overdue April rent, outstanding water rates and a rates bill by April 21.

Hum Hospitality founder Rosie Armitage was served an eviction notice on March 16 after the lease on the cafe and social enterprise group was cancelled without notice.

A long-standing legal stoush with the landlord involving a rent and maintenance dispute came to a head over Hum’s non-payment of a $1500 GST portion of rent earlier this year.

But Armitage is staying put to appeal the tenancy cancellation and GST invoices, even if it leads to an arrest. Five other residents remain at the property.

Armitage and barrister Ray Parmenter on behalf of Stylo Medical Services appeared at the High Court in Auckland on Monday over the future of the property.

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“I will grant a stay which will permit Hum to retain possession of the premises pending the determination by the Court of Appeal of Hum’s application for extension of time to appeal,” Justice Brewer said in a court document issued today.

“If the application is granted, it will be up to the Court of Appeal to decide whether the stay should continue and, if so, on what terms.”

Justice Brewer ordered Hum to continue paying rent to Stylo Medical Services because if not “Hum might simply continue to occupy the premises without paying Stylo anything”.

“Hum does not have a record of making rent payments on time.”

Hum will have to pay $18,328.81 in overdue rent and rates, as well as $11,500 in future monthly rent and any future invoices for rates.

'Under siege'

Armitage hopes today’s court order will put an end to alleged scare-mongering tactics from the landlord.

She told the Herald residents have been “under siege” from the landlord’s tactics “in the cover of darkness” since the eviction notice.

She alleges the landlord has attempted to contact their power company to say the premises is not occupied and has given permission for trees to be cut down, destroying Armitage’s son’s playhouse, without their knowledge.

The landlord asked GHL Group to erect a fence around the property early one morning without their knowledge, Armitage claims.

“This illustrates the position Hum is in, pursuing an appeal while in some ways under siege from tactics from the landlord,” Hum’s lawyer Morgan Powell said on Monday.

Parmenter said the landlord was exercising his right to protect the heritage property.

“When this happened, Ms Armitage was a trespasser on Stylo’s land; Stylo could do with the land as it wished, although it could not cause a breach of the peace.

“The trees were cut down because every inch of the property is a heritage site. Stylo is not allowed to damage or allow damage to the site. The trees in question were breaking the perimeter walls and the ongoing damage had to be stopped,” he said.

Parmenter claims Hum has failed to pay rent and bills numerous times, dragging the battle out in at least five court hearings.

“I go back to 1 January 2017 and record that there would be 51 monthly payments of rental due on the first of each month until today. Ms Armitage has not made one rental payment on time in that period,” he said in a statement to the Herald.

“Hum appears to be hopelessly in debt and cannot pay rent on time and worries about consequences if it doesn’t,” he said in court on Monday.

Hum said it has not yet paid rent that was due on April 1 because it had to pay legal fees to Bell Gully.

In an attempt to fundraise, it will be selling T-shirts and it has set up a Givealittle page last month.


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