Leaseholders saying it's too early to get excited

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 06/06/2014
Waitara leaseholders Andrew and Judy Young
CHARLOTTE CURD/Fairfax NZ
SITUATION UNCLEAR: Waitara leaseholders Andrew and Judy Young would like to see leaseholders have the option to buy their homes.

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Waitara leaseholders are not holding their breath that the latest development will allow them to finally freehold their land.

Te Atiawa has decided it does not want Waitara leasehold land in its Treaty settlement, so the New Plymouth District Council is taking legal advice in an attempt to understand what this means for future land sales.

Leaseholders Andrew and Judy Young said it is too early to get excited, because no one knows what is going to happen.

"Iwi still have the right to buy it back, so it doesn't give us a clear view of what is really happening," Judy Young said.

They bought their house 36 years ago because they were told they would be able to freehold it.

Some leaseholders may not be able to afford to buy their properties, but should still have the opportunity, she said.

"They can sell their homes then and can say, ‘You can freehold this'. The leases are handed on to the kids, but our kids don't want it."

Allowing the properties to be freehold will improve Waitara, because many leaseholders are refusing to make any improvements to their houses, she said.

"We're not doing anything to our home, nothing. We've spent $75,000 on improvements already. My bathroom is only half done because I'm not finishing it. We won't get anything back."

Andrew Young said the large increases in lease payments hadn't helped.

"People are not going to worry about doing repairs and will let roofs rust, if they want us to pay such a huge lease. We can't afford it."

If leaseholders were allowed to buy their homes, it would be good if people could buy them through paying the lease, he said.

Leaseholder Ian Morton has owned his house for 20 years.

"We had the money set aside to buy the section, when the council said we could buy them, but all that money has been gobbled up in lawyers' fees and we're still paying our lease."

Leaseholders were always looking for a positive solution, he said.

"We're still waiting to see and hope it's a positive solution for the Maori people and the leaseholders."

If the land was sold to leaseholders he wanted the money to stay in Waitara, he said.

"I hope Waitara would somehow benefit."

A few years ago the proposal was to use vacant leasehold land for the Treaty settlements.

"That's still an option, but for one reason or another they put the occupied sections in instead."

He's not partying yet, he said.

A group of leaseholders are preparing a legal case around the increase of leases in Newbury Place and that will continue.

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"When you look at the land value it hasn't increased, so how do they justify increasing leases? Elderly people can't afford new leases, that's the reality."

- TVNZ

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