A West Auckland retirement village resident who Metlifecare tried to evict from a large village has been ordered to leave a temporary unit there and return to her original place after weathertightness repairs.
In an unusual series of circumstances in the rapidly-growing multibillion-dollar retirement village sector which houses nearly 40,000 older New Zealanders, the first case this year to go to a full hearing and decision has been published.
Most disputes don't go that far and are resolved between the resident and retirement village owner or via mediation and arbitration, all away from the public gaze.
Sandra Williams' case is the first to be published this year by the state entity in charge of retirement villages, the Commission for Financial Capability.
She lives at Metlifecare's large Waitakere Gardens but Metlifecare is dogged with a $40 million-plus weathertightness and defective building liability in the North Island and her place needed fixing.
Once it was done, she complained of changes, particularly airflow reduction, and refused to leave the temporary unit at the village.
Robert Ashcroft, sole member of a commission disputes panel, delivered his decision this month on the three matters in a dispute.
• Whether in repairing her original unit, Metlifecare had unacceptably and illegally reduced natural airflow. Williams won seven out of 10 points on that part of her dispute, but no order was made by Ashcroft.
• While work was carried out on her original place, she had moved into a temporary unit but Metlifecare wanted her to leave that temporary place and return to her original place, but Williams refused. So Metlifecare terminated her right to occupy the temporary place. Metlifecare won that dispute and Ashcroft ordered Williams to leave the temporary place within 14 days.
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• Metlifecare then sought to terminate her right to occupy her original place. Williams won that, barring Metlifecare from evicting her from the complex.
The decision told how Williams had refused to move back to her original unit claiming issues with how it was fixed, particularly enclosed walkways, fire cells, fixed windows and ventilation. She claimed loss of benefits she previously had, such as the ability to sit in an open walkway.
She claimed she was not consulted about how the place was fixed.
Ashcroft found Metlifecare had not met proper consultation requirements. However, fixing her place resulted in a standard at least equal to the pre-existing situation, which is what her occupation right agreement required. Williams complained that Metlifecare was "unilaterally bulldozing" its way through the remediation. But Ashcroft decided: "There is no evidence which substantiates the allegation of bullying of and exploitation of residents by MLC".
Troy Churton, the commission's retirement villages national manager, said yesterday: "The operator did remedial work that enabled the resident to return to her original unit. They rightfully gave notice for her to terminate her temporary accommodation to return to her original unit."
Metlifecare chief executive Glen Sowry said: "We're comfortable with the decision and remain keen to work with Sandra to enable a return to her unit."
The 14 calendar days for her return was "around about now".
READ FULL DECISION HERE: