A terminally ill woman who thought she was in a rent-to-buy scheme stands to lose her home of the past decade.
Mortgagee auctions were planned last week for the homes of two Palmerston North couples - Lyn and Gary Williams, and Jimmy and Pauline Clayton - but were postponed the night before by the ASB Bank while lawyers try to find a last-ditch solution to keep their homes.
Pauline Clayton learned something was up only when a bank-appointed valuer knocked on her door six weeks ago.
She suffers from emphysema and husband Jimmy said the stress had made his wife, who was taking 36 pills a day for a series of ailments, deeply depressed.
"If they pull our house away from us, I don't know what will happen. If the house went, we've got nothing. This was supposed to be our piece of paradise."
Both families say they signed rent-to-buy agreements with local couple Grant and Vivienne Bryers, paying a fortnightly sum to cover mortgage, rates, and insurance as well as contributions to eventually buy the homes outright.
Property records show the Williams' home in Milton St was bought by AIP Limited in 2005 for $96,000. The Star-Times has seen the sale contract for the Williams' home for $108,000 which states AIP must pay the mortgage. It is witnessed by a lawyer.
The Claytons' home at Catlins Cres was bought by Central Limited for $108,000 in 2002. Both companies were owned by the Bryers. Central Ltd was struck off the companies register last year and AIP is in danger of being struck for not filing its annual return. The Bryers were bankrupted late last year.
The families say they tracked down Grant Bryers in Foxton and Vivienne Bryers in Auckland and got little response. Clayton said Grant Bryers had told him he had lost everything in his bankruptcy. Neither of the Bryers could be contacted by the Star-Times for comment.
Lyn Williams had seen a letter sent to Bryers from ASB demanding arrears of $8000 be paid before last December and has been told the rates are $1700 in arrears. She fears insurance payments may also have lapsed.
"If they had actually come to us when they were $8000 in arrears, I could have paid that and moved on from there, but there has been no contact from them," she said. "We've paid money, and everything was going along, and we didn't know anything until we had the valuer turn up.
"Neither ASB nor us have done anything wrong. We're the two losing people fighting each other because of the a---holes in the middle who are using our home to fix their problems."
After the valuer's visit came a real estate agent, who was also denied access, and has since held roadside "open homes" while the Williams' family stood on the front lawn waving protest placards, which now decorate the front of the house and read: "Rent to buy for ten years, now they are selling our property", "Ripped off by AIP and ASB".
L J Hooker sales manager Steve Allen confirmed they had been instructed by the ASB Bank to sell the house as a mortgagee auction but were told to postpone the sale, due to be held on Wednesday, for a fortnight.
An ASB spokesman said: "We only became aware that the occupants of the properties were involved in a rent-to-buy arrangement with the mortgagee when the house was put on the market as part of a mortgagee sale.
"Subsequently, we have delayed the auction to allow time to clarify the situation and for the occupants to provide a proposal through their solicitors for the bank to consider."
- Sunday Star Times