Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Lessee 'not naive in property matters', court told

Yong Xin Chen forfeited this $2.1 million bungalow at 21 Maungakiekie Ave after her annual ground rent rose from $8300 to $73,750. Photo / Greg Bowker
Yong Xin Chen forfeited this $2.1 million bungalow at 21 Maungakiekie Ave after her annual ground rent rose from $8300 to $73,750. Photo / Greg Bowker

Ground rent of $173,323.64 is being sought from Yong Xin Chen in the case being brought by the Cornwall Park Trust Board.

Matt Casey, QC opened the case in the High Court at Auckland this morning, saying she owed two years rent on 21 Maungakiekie Ave in Epsom but she had refused to pay.

Her lease expired on March 30, 2009 yet she remained in possession for another two and a half years but "has refused to pay the upset back rent", he said.

But the board also wants damages for costs of reinstating the property, seeking a further $117,042.60 including $114,661.42 paid to Omega Construction.

Casey told how Sir John Logan Campbell had gifted land to the trust board "from which income could be derived to support the operation of the park. This land adjoins the park," he told Justice Rebecca Ellis.

"Between 1910 and 1923 the endowment land was subdivided and leased on perpetually renewable Glasgow ground leases for residential development.

"Some of the most highly attractive properties back onto the park. 21 Maungakiekie Avenue is one of these," he said.

Chen and her husband Yue Lin also owned other valuable properties at Judges Bay Rd, Parnell and at 2 Titai St, Orakei.

"They subdivided and sold the Judges Bay Road property. The Titai Street property is valued at over $3 million. They are not naive or unsophisticated in property matters," Casey said.

She acknowledged twice in writing to the board that she had a copy of the lease and understood the terms and conditions of that.

Casey also cited the 2009 Supreme Court case brought over the board's valuation methods and said the board won that case.

Valuers had agreed the ground rent for 21 Maungakiekie Ave should be $73,750 annually, he said.

Jenny Wicks is appearing for Chen and the case is set down for five days and Casey said her solicitors said she could not afford the increased ground rent.

The property was auctioned on September 28, 2011 but did not sell, he said.

Chen, wearing sunglasses, is sitting at the back of the court, along with park board staff.

- NZ Herald

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