Business Editor for the NZ Herald

Cornwall Park leaseholder liable for $173,000 back rent - Court

Yong Xin Chen (pictured) was chased by the  Cornwall Park Trust Board, for close to $300,000 in back rent and repair work on the property, which is now being tenanted. Photo / NZ Herald
Yong Xin Chen (pictured) was chased by the Cornwall Park Trust Board, for close to $300,000 in back rent and repair work on the property, which is now being tenanted. Photo / NZ Herald

A court ruling finding a leaseholder liable for almost $175,000 in back rent is "definitive" and means this sort of dispute will unlikely need to be argued again, says the Cornwall Park Trust Board.

The Court of Appeal yesterday found that Yong Xin Chen, who abandoned her house on Maungakiekie Ave in the Auckland suburb of One Tree Hill, was liable for almost $175,000 in back rent.

Chen also failed to challenge the nearly $120,000 bill she was ordered to pay by the High Court for the cost of repairs done to her property after she left.

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Chen bought a house, on the edge of Auckland's Cornwall Park, on leasehold land in 2005 for $450,000 but in 2010 her annual rent increased from $8300 to $73,750.

Chen tried to negotiate to freehold the property and adjust the rent if her lease was renewed but vacated the house in November 2011.

Cornwall Park Trust Board, which owns the land, later chased Chen in the High Court for close to $300,000 in back rent and repair work on the property, which is now being tenanted.

Chen fought the claim and in 2014 a judge dismissed the board's attempt to get backdated rent at the increased amount.

However, Chen was ordered to pay $119,327 of repair costs.

Both sides took the case to the Court of Appeal and Justices Ellen France, Tony Randerson and Lynton Stevens heard the case last month.

In a decision released this morning, the trio granted the board's appeal and said that Chen was liable to pay "upset rent from the date of expiry of the lease until she vacated the property".

At the time of the High Court case, the board said this amounted to $173,323.64.

Justice France, Randerson and Stevens also dismissed Chen's cross-appeal on the repair bill.

Cornwall Park Trust Board, which owns 110 leasehold properties in Greenlane and One Tree Hill, said it was pleased with the Court of Appeal's "definitive rulings".

"Because of the definitive nature of these rulings the Trust Board has been advised that it is unlikely it will need to argue these key points again," park director Michael Ayrton said.

Read the full judgement here:

- NZ Herald

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