Fire guts Hawke's Bay house sold after rates dispute
Fire has gutted a rural Hawke's Bay home that recently changed hands after a long-running dispute over unpaid rates.
Detectives are investigating the fire, which broke out some time before 4am on Tuesday at the Colin White Rd house, just off State Highway 2 at Te Hauke, south of Hastings.
The property has reportedly been at the centre of tensions between its new owner, Alan Speer, and the son of the deceased previous owner. The son was required to move out following a forced sale after rates went unpaid for years.
A Hastings District Council spokeswoman confirmed more than $6000 in rates was outstanding when a court order authorising the property's sale was made in November last year.
Speer could not be reached for comment but his lawyer, Donna Carroll, said he was distraught and was busy dealing with the aftermath of the fire.
Detective Sergeant Glen Yule said fire investigators were assessing the scene on Tuesday.
Police would assess the situation once the cause of the fire was established, he said.