Plan to march over leases

Last updated 05:00 16/12/2013

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Frustrated Waitara leaseholders are organising a march on their council in protest at sky-rocketing ground rents.

The New Plymouth District Council administers hundreds of residential land leases in Waitara.

The leases are reviewed every 21 years and rent is set independently of the council by valuers Telfer Young.

The latest batch of renewals has seen ground rents increase by 1000 per cent or more, in some cases with leaseholders formerly paying about $450 now being charged closer to $4000 or more.

Newbury Place residents Lee and John Langle are already panicking about their rental review scheduled for May.

Currently paying just under $500 a year, they expect to see their lease increase to $5200 a year and say they will simply not be able to afford it.

Feeling ignored by the council and the Government, the Langles are gathering other leaseholders and their supporters for a protest march to the council on Friday.

"Honest to God, somebody has got to do something for us.

"We haven't got that kind of money out here. We are senior citizens and there are young families. What they are doing to us is wrong," Mrs Langle said.

If leaseholders don't agree with their new ground rent, they can request arbitration, though this can cost thousands of dollars.

In the past five years no leaseholder has gone to arbitration and 60 out of the 69 up for renewal within the past two years have accepted their new lease.

New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd has visited Waitara residents and spoken at a public meeting there about the issue.

But he said the council's hands were tied over addressing the rents as the lands had been offered to Te Atiawa as part of their Treaty settlement.

Until the iwi decides whether they will take them or not, nothing can be done to alter the ground rents as it would change the value of the offer.

Their decision is expected in March but could take months or even years longer than that.

Te Atiawa, for their part, are not letting on which way they might go.

However if they do accept the lease lands, they are bound by the same rent-setting rules as the council.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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