Race to meet mortgage deadline

17:00, Jun 09 2013
Balgownie House
"I AM A TENANT": Vanessa Mapp needs to raise $902,441 by 2pm on Wednesday to stay in Balgorie House.

The immediate future of Lower Hutt's historic Balgownie House should be known on Wednesday, with $902,000 needing to be raised by then to stop a mortgagee sale.

The company that owns it has defaulted on the mortgage.

One of its shareholders, Vanessa Mapp, who lives there with tenants, has until Wednesday to settle with a finance company which wants her out of the heritage-listed building.

In the High Court at Wellington on Friday, her voice quavered as she spoke of her 12 animals and belongings spread through the mansion's 23 rooms. She estimated it was the equivalent of two 10-wheeler truckloads. "There is a lot of stuff."

She says she has nowhere to go if she cannot pull together the deal to pay finance company Cressida Capital One.

"If you are confident you can settle, then you don't need to worry about it, but if you are not confident you should start packing now," Justice Ron Young advised her.


Cressida has pledged not to be obstructive or oppressive about her packing dilemma if she cannot meet the terms agreed.

Lawyer Justin Toebes said the company had no claim on her belongings, but she was belligerent and obstructive and it wanted her personally out of the property.

It went to the court to get an order for her to vacate the house, saying she had been frustrating its attempts to sell the house, built in 1900, and that the property was being damaged.

At a recent open home, windows were blacked out, electrical fuses were out and glass was on the floor.

Ms Mapp said she could not control the other occupants of the house, and she had no motive to damage a property she was trying hard to keep. But Mr Toebes said it was Ms Mapp who had made threats orally and in writing.

Cressida had been scrupulous in its dealings over the property, he said. The $902,000 it was prepared to settle for was less than legally due under the mortgage, and it would respect any tenants' rights, but it had no tenancy with Ms Mapp and wanted her out because of her belligerence.

After some discussion with Justice Young, Ms Mapp has a final chance to come up with the money. Cressida even dropped a condition that she pay $10,000 cash up front.

She says it will not be easy. The agreement will involve three new mortgagees, a new company, and getting a caveat lifted, but in the end she said, "I accept" to the terms.

The caveat relates to $601,000 alleged to have been diverted to Ms Mapp's bank account while she had control of the estate of a man she says was her partner. Phil Gordon, an arborist, died when he fell out of a tree in England three years ago. Legal action is continuing over the money allegedly missing from his estate.

The Dominion Post