A Wellington couple who lived above a dairy and earlier survived an armed hold up have lost a bid to have their landlord pay for their fire-damaged belongings.
Narendra and Bharti Gandhi used to run the Devyish Superette in a two-storey Kilbirnie property they rented from Demetrios Serepisos for 25 years.
Serepisos is the uncle of former Wellington Phoenix backer and reality TV star Terry Serepisos.
However, a fire destroyed the Kilbirnie building in March, leaving it uninhabitable.
Forced to flee the blaze, the Gandhis did not have contents insurance and lost all their belongings.
They subsequently took Serepisos to the Tenancy Tribunal, seeking compensation for beds, clothing and a TV that were later removed without their permission.
Narendra Gandhi and Serepisos had earlier returned to the property three days after the blaze but made no decisions on what should be done with the belongings left behind, the tribunal hearing was told.
Months after the fire Serepisos was then instructed to have everything cleared out so the building could be repaired. It all went to the tip at a removal cost of about $60,000.
He said the removal was not his decision as the insurer had taken control of the building after the fire.
He argued anything left in the building would anyway have been damaged by either the fire or firefighting efforts or by rain entering through the exposed roof.
The Gandhis on the other hand believed the items still had value.
But the tribunal adjudicator disagreed, finding the Gandhi's did not have enough evidence to prove the items were still valuable.
The adjudicator said "the high probability that there was damage of some sort" meant "there considerable doubt that belongings left in the premises after the fire had any value".
This led the adjudicator to find in favour of Serepisos, saying it was "reasonable" for the items to have been removed.
Following March's fire, eldest son Devyish Gandhi earlier set up a Givealittle page to help his parents out.
"Right now they are staying in my tiny townhouse which is made for two people, and now need help to get back on their feet, find a new home and get a semblance of the safety and comfort they once had at Devyish Superette," he wrote at the time.
"They had been at Devyish Superette for at least 25 years, providing goods and services to locals in Kilbirnie, 7 days a week."
The fire also came about two years after Bharti Gandhi thwacked an armed robber in the head with a broom.
The man had entered the shop and fired a bullet into the roof before making off with about $100 from the till.
But as he was running out the door, Bharti clocked him one on the head with the broom handle.
Devyish Gandhi said he was keen to help his parents "find something that does not endanger their life".