Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Park lessee details profitable property history

The house at 21 Maungakiekie Ave, Greenlane Auckland, owned by the Cornwall Park Trust Board. Inset: Yong Xin Chen. Photo / Greg Bowker
The house at 21 Maungakiekie Ave, Greenlane Auckland, owned by the Cornwall Park Trust Board. Inset: Yong Xin Chen. Photo / Greg Bowker

The woman who claims she could not afford a $73,750 annual Greenlane leasehold bill was involved in three other multimillion-dollar Auckland property investment purchases and developments, a court was told.

The High Court at Auckland was told yesterday how Chinese migrant Yong Xin Chen and her husband Yue Lin bought houses in Parnell, Mission Bay and Orakei as well as the $450,000 leasehold Greenlane house standing on Cornwall Park Trust Board land.

Under cross-examination by QC Matt Casey, Ms Chen said she and her husband had spent millions in some of Auckland's best areas via a company, buying, subdividing, developing and selling for profit, particularly in 2011.

Yet at 21 Maungakiekie Ave, Greenlane, she was the sole purchaser of the $2 million-plus bungalow where the ground rent rocketed from $8300 annually to $73,750. Hers was the only name on the title, she conceded to Mr Casey, agreeing that her husband was "a successful businessman".

The board wants the judge to agree she must pay $173,323.64 back-rent and $117,042.60 to reinstate the house to an appropriate order and say she had all the documents on the leasehold terms.

Mr Casey asked her about a house the couple owned in Ronaki Rd, Mission Bay, which they had sold for $1,450,000, and one at 2 Titai St, Orakei, which he said earlier was valued at more than $3 million.

Mr Casey told Justice Rebecca Ellis the couple were skilled, experienced realestate investors, "not naive or unsophisticated in property matters".

Ms Chen told the court how she and her husband bought 19 Judges Bay Rd in Parnell, which they subdivided, selling one half for $1.3 million and the other "probably for $2.75 million".

The couple used their company, Golden Land Investments, to undertake the Mission Bay, Orakei and Parnell purchases, she agreed.

However, she also told the court how she was "critically ill" in 2008 and was hospitalised three times.

"At times I was in a wheelchair. I was told I had cancer of the pancreas so I thinking I would not live very much longer," she said.

Trouble over the lease arose in 2009 and she left the property in 2011, handing the keys back to the board.

Ms Chen told Mr Casey she thought she could freehold the Greenlane property, having been told this by a Harcourts real estate agent at the time she bought from the Judsons, who had previously renewed the lease in 1988.

Ms Chen also said she was led to believe the ground rent would only ever rise to $40,000. Mr Casey asked her if she realised the ground rent was calculated on 5 per cent of the site's value without the house. Ms Chen said her lawyer had not told her that.

Asked if she had ever read the Cornwall Park Trust Board lease, Ms Chen said she did not ask to have it translated into Mandarin to help her understand it.

An interpreter is needed in court to translate written documents and all verbal communications.

- NZ Herald

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