'Under siege': Allegations of scare-mongering as residents of Auckland fight eviction

Author
Miriam Burrell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Apr 2021, 4:06PM
Hum community hub leader Rosie Armitage was served with an eviction notice last month. (Photo / Dean Purcell)
Hum community hub leader Rosie Armitage was served with an eviction notice last month. (Photo / Dean Purcell)

'Under siege': Allegations of scare-mongering as residents of Auckland fight eviction

Author
Miriam Burrell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Apr 2021, 4:06PM

Residents of an Auckland community house fighting eviction hope a court judgement will put an end to the landlord's alleged scare-mongering tactics.

Hum Hospitality founder Rosie Armitage was served an eviction notice on March 16 after the lease on the Grafton heritage building was cancelled without notice.

A long-standing legal battle and rent dispute with the landlord – Stylo Medical Services - came to a head over Hum's non-payment of a $1500 GST portion of rent earlier this year.

Armitage is staying put to appeal the tenancy cancellation even if it leads to an arrest. Five other residents remain at the property, which also has a cafe.

Both parties appeared at the High Court in Auckland on Monday about the future of the property.

She told the Herald residents have been "under siege" from the landlord's tactics "in the cover of darkness" since the eviction notice.

She alleges the landlord has attempted to contact their power company to say the premises is not occupied and has given permission for trees to be cut down, destroying Armitage's son's playhouse, without their knowledge.

The landlord asked GHL Group to erect a fence around the property early one morning without their knowledge, Armitage claims.

"This illustrates the position Hum is in, in pursing an appeal while in some ways under siege from tactics from the landlord," Hum's lawyer Morgan Powell said.

Barrister Ray Parmenter, representing Stylo Medical Services, said the landlord was exercising his right to protect the heritage property.

A decision by Justice Brewer on whether or not Hum residents can stay in the property while they appeal the lease cancellation - and under what conditions - is imminent.

"I do think it's in the interest of justice to give Hum a chance to advance its appeal in the Court of Appeal," said Justice Brewer on Monday.

Armitage is claiming the café and social enterprise community hub should not have to pay GST and this will be part of the basis of her appeal.

But Parmenter claims Hum has failed to pay rent and bills numerous times, dragging the battle out in at least five court hearings.

"I go back to 1 January 2017 and record that there would be 51 monthly payments of rental due on the first of each month until today. Ms Armitage has not made one rental payment on time in that period," he said in a statement to the Herald.

"Hum appears to be hopelessly in debt and cannot pay rent on time and worries about consequences if it doesn't," he said in court on Monday.

Hum Hospitality founder Rosie Armitage hopes to remain at the heritage villa on Grafton Rd while she fights the lease cancellation. Photo / Dean PurcellHum Hospitality founder Rosie Armitage hopes to remain at the heritage villa on Grafton Rd while she fights the lease cancellation. Photo / Dean Purcell

In response to recent alleged actions of the landlord, Parmenter told the Herald: "It's a heritage building including the fences, and the trees were damaging the wall because they were pushing the wall out.

"The occupier of the property is entitled to look after the property," he said.

Hum has not yet paid rent that was due on April 1 because it had to pay legal fees to Bell Gully.

In an attempt to fundraise, it will be selling T-shirts and it has set up a Givealittle page last month.