Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Cornwall tenant tells court of improvements she made

Yong Xin Chen arrives at the Auckland High Court to give evidence in her battle with the Cornwall Park Trust Board.  Photo / Brett Phibbs
Yong Xin Chen arrives at the Auckland High Court to give evidence in her battle with the Cornwall Park Trust Board. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A Chinese migrant who leased a $2 million-plus house on Cornwall Park Trust Board land says she carried out extensive work to the place which was in poor condition when she moved in.

Via an interpreter and wearing dark glasses, Yong Xin Chen gave evidence in the High Court at Auckland yesterday saying she was a New Zealand citizen, held a New Zealand passport, migrated from northeast China in 2003 and had lived at 21 Maungakiekie Ave which she bought in 2005.

The board is suing her for $348,284 in unpaid leasehold fees, renovation costs and expenses after she abandoned the house following an increase in ground rent from $8300 to $73,750. Chen said she had fixed the roof, renovated the kitchen and bathrooms, installed an alarm and new drainage systems, fixed the swimming pool and improved the flooring.

"My dealings with the Cornwall Park [Trust Board] have been very difficult and they have not been fair while dealing with me," Chen told Justice Rebecca Ellis.

Chen's lawyer Jenny Wickes said the board had been involved in litigation with other leasehold owners over valuation methodology throughout 2009 and Chen challenged the board that her valuer caused delays. She had attempted to negotiate to freehold the property and adjust the rent if the lease was renewed.

The board sought $173,323.64 back rent as well as auction, legal costs and estimated repair costs of $165,120.

- NZ Herald

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