Residents set to make improvements after winning court case against management firm set up by developer.

Residents of Takapuna high-rise apartment block The Sentinel plan to spend $470,000 on a big outdoor podium upgrade of their tower in a three-month project due to start on Monday.

Dennis Ansley and Peter Fraher are residents, apartment owners and body corporate committee members, who said the area on level four of the 30-storey tower needed a number of changes, including better shelter against winds on the exposed deck.

In heavy weather waves from the outdoor pool spill off the podium deck area and pour down on to Huron St.

"There is potential to cover the pool," Fraher said, adding that this option was not feasible when the water was occasionally washed off the side of the tower. "We'd like to cover the pool to keep it warm."


The pool is heated for the warmer six months of the year but strong winds cool it, Ansley and Fraher said.

The option of covering the pool will make it more useable and potentially reduce heating costs, they said. Residents hope to be able to use the pool all year round.

Rick Martin, Sentinel developer, said he was still proud of the building, pleased to hear of the improvement and acknowledged that wind was an issue on the podium and at ground level.

Ansley and Fraher said the existing clear glazed barriers on the edges of the podium had always been too low and provided inadequate wind shelter. Much higher barriers will be installed.

The exposed BBQ areas will be shaded, tilting louvres will be installed, a pergola created to the northeast and a new platform developed outside the gym with the potential for a communal room to be developed there eventually.

When the work begins, part of Huron St will be closed to allow materials to be hoisted up to the podium.

The big changes at the tower lately have come from residents taking over the management after winning a court case. Last year, the body corporate and Ansley for the owners went to the High Court at Auckland against Sentinel Management, originally established by Martin.

Owners argued the management system was undemocratic and that the manager held too much power, calling for the management agreement to be ruled invalid and unenforceable.

Justice Mark Woolford agreed and said the management agreement was harsh and unconscionable under the Unit Titles Act 2010 which governs such agreements.

Tim Rainey of Rainey Law argued the management agreement was invalid and unenforceable.

Martin was like a company promoter and therefore had obligations to apartment buyers via their body corporate, Rainey said.

However, Martin's interest in the development was "inherently at odds with the body corporate's interest" and he favoured his interests in Sentinel Management over those of the body corporate, Rainey said.

Aspects of the management agreement were unreasonably one-sided, unfairly priced and overly beneficial to Sentinel Management, he said.

The management rights, valued at $1.7 million, had been advertised for sale.

The judge said these rights included a letting service, a real estate sales service and Sentinel residents' service.

He ruled for the owners, saying the management agreement was "designed to maximise profit for Sentinel Management in a way which has restricted the rights of apartment owners to manage the building through the body corporate".

Ansley and Fraher said they were proud of the way the tower was being run because annual body corporate fees had only risen from about $8000 to $8900.

The services of a concierge had been restored and five staff were employed by the body corporate to ensure standards stayed high.

Body corporate committee members were volunteers and had put extensive time and expertise into their roles, Ansley and Fraher said. About 30 units are rented out.

The Sentinel

*Developer, Rick Martin
*Builder, Multiplex Construction
*$125m project with 117 units
*Finished in 2007