Eviction order lost so family stays

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2013

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Evicted for bond blunder, $30 debt

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An Invercargill family who faced eviction yesterday over a bond blunder remain at the property because the eviction order has been misplaced.

Brent Webster lost the bond on his Vernon St property when property company Easystart Rental Management went into liquidation after failing to lodge the money with the Department of Building and Housing.

In an attempt to recoup their loss, the Websters withheld rent for four weeks, but the company which took over their property management, First National, took them to a tribunal which ordered the family to repay the rent in instalments.

Then a missed payment, which Mr Webster believed was caused by a late pay cheque going into his account over Christmas, led to the eviction order.

He had not received a copy of the eviction order and searched the Ministry of Justice website for the order but could not find a detailed explanation, so he asked First National for a copy.

Mr Webster also said he did not have a copy of the order in an email about his situation to the adjudicator, sent via the court registry officer at the Queenstown court.

First National property manager Debbie McKenzie emailed Mr Webster to tell him that because his Tenancy Tribunal hearing was held with the Queenstown adjudicator, with the final hearing by teleconference, the order was not held at the Invercargill court and said she would get a copy from the Queenstown court sent to him.

Yesterday she said the file had been lost by Queenstown court staff, which was "frustrating".

There was no final copy of the order so, legally, the company could not actually push through the order, so the family was "hanging in there", she said.

First National general manager Dave Price said it appeared that parts of the eviction order were not sent to both his company and Mr Webster at the conclusion of the hearing.

The adjudicator responded that the situation had been dealt with by the tribunal previously, "although there have been difficulties locating the file/orders".

Mr Webster said the family intended to stay in their home for the rest of the week or until they managed to get themselves sorted.

They had been offered accommodation from various Southland Times readers who empathised with their position.

The family was grateful for the offers and would spend the next few days thinking them over.

A note written on First National letterhead was left on their front door yesterday saying Mr Webster had to fix a broken window and clean the carpets.

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Mr Price said the property was damaged and there would be costs involved to bring it back up to speed for rental again.

He said the family were not being evicted for $30, as Mr Webster had claimed, and significantly more money was owed but he would not say how much.

The company had taken on the property in good faith without a bond and it was only following the letter of the law and had been lenient with other missed payments, Mr Price said.

Mr Webster said he had decided to use his superannuation to finance his family into a new rental home.

He said he would go back to the tenancy tribunal to voice his concerns.

- The Southland Times

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