Tenants leave council to foot the bill
Disgruntled tenants have left the Palmerston North City Council with repair bills of $63,000, and mounting, after stripping out the building that was previously the April Sun on Cuba.
The commercial building with two flats attached was bought for $320,000 in a mortgagee sale last year.
Property manager John Brenkley said the site would make an ideal new entrance to Arena Manawatu.
There was no money in the budget for the purchase, but rental income was supposed to cover the costs.
However, alarm bells began to sound when the tenants, the previous owners, would not sign a tenancy agreement or pay the council rent.
It took legal intervention to get the operators of the day spa and beauty business to leave, and Mr Brenkley said the interior of the building was unrecognisable on key handover day.
"It had been nice, an operating business. It ended up an absolute mess."
Carpets were lifted, all plumbing was ripped out apart from one toilet, heat pumps were removed, leaving holes that leaked, and light fittings and power point covers were gone. Not only were the doors gone, but so were architraves, skirting boards, pillars and surrounds from outside, and the pulleys from the sash windows.
"They have taken things that you could not even use anywhere else."
The damage extended to the two flats, which were left uninhabitable.
Mr Brenkley said the first priority was to make the plumbing and wiring safe. One unit has new tenants after the repairs.
The other would remain vacant so trades people could have access through it to repair and renovate the commercial unit.
Mr Brenkley said his preference would be to secure a commercial tenant first, and restore the building to their requirements.
The council has a Tenancy Tribunal ruling in its favour regarding damage to one of the units, and has spent an undisclosed amount on legal fees.
It has filed for an application by an entitled party for an order for examination of liable parties. If granted, that would allow the council access to information about the former tenants' finances.
Mr Brenkley said the purpose was to find out if it was worth trying to recover costs.
"It might be pointless pursuing if there is no money there."
The Registrar of Companies has removed April Sun on Cuba Ltd from the companies register, because it has ceased trading.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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