11 Jul 2016

Leasehold fight goes to Supreme Court

7:34 pm on 11 July 2016

A woman who abandoned her leasehold home on the edge of Auckland's Cornwall Park has won the right to go to the Supreme Court in November.

Yong Xin Chen abandoned her home in 2011 after a new 21 year lease increased her ground rent from $8300 a year to more than $73,000 per year.

Yong Xin Chen abandoned her home on the edge of Auckland's Cornwall Park after a new lease dramatically increased her ground rent.

Yong Xin Chen abandoned her home on the edge of Auckland's Cornwall Park after a new lease dramatically increased her ground rent. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farelly

Ms Chen had paid $450,000 for the property in 2005 but argued the increase in rent was untenable.

The Cornwall Park Trust Board now owns the land and is pursuing Ms Chen for more than $300,000 in back rent and repair costs to the house after she left.

Ms Chen has never spoken about her situation, but her lawyer Jennifer Wickes told Checkpoint with John Campbell the case has been ongoing since 2010.

"It was uneconomic for her. The sums just didn't add up."

After Ms Chen refused to sign the new lease, the property went to an auction in 2011 but there were no bidders. The property then reverted to the ownership of Cornwall Park, according to the terms of the lease, written in the 1930s.

That effectively meant Ms Chen lost her equity, and that's when the matter went to court.

Ms Chen won one High Court case, partially won another and lost in the Court of Appeal, Ms Wickes said.

She is fighting to not have to pay the $300,000 in back rent and repair costs, but was willing to forgo the $450,000 equity.

"Unless some other lawyer can correctly advise her I don't think she can recoup that from Cornwall Park under this particular lease."

Checkpoint asked Cornwall Park Trust board to comment on Ms Chen's situation but it said nobody was available.