A dispute over repairs to a building at Kensington Park in Orewa has escalated with protestors taking to the streets with placards, causing deep divisions among residents.
At the core of the problem are leaks believed to be coming from a drain beneath a building in Parkside Drive – an issue that was first raised by residents around 18 months ago.
The problem is ongoing as residents, the building’s body corporate and the current developer, dispute the extent of the problem and who should pay for repairs. This led to the protest action by frustrated residents.
Kensington Park Residents Association chair, Rob Small, says a group of about eight residents and body corporate representatives started picketing the sales office of developer Kensington Park Holdings (KPHL) last month. There have been around eight days of protests in total, with the most recent on August 25.
Mr Small describes the protests as “misguided” – an attempt to put pressure on KPHL and embarrass the company into sorting out the leaks.
However, KPHL says it has no legal, contractual or moral obligation to attend to the issues.
General manager residential Jo McDonald says that the block in question was built around 11 years ago by Patrick Fontein’s Kensington Park Properties, which went into receivership owing millions in 2008. KPHL took over in 2009.
Ms McDonald says fixing the problem, which is causing seepage in a basement, is the responsibility of the body corporate that looks after that block of buildings.
Residents pay an annual fee to the body corporate, which covers repairs and maintenance.
In a letter to residents, Ms McDonald says that despite having no legal requirement to do so, as a gesture of goodwill, KPHL is assisting, guiding and advising the body corporate and is working with the affected homeowners to investigate their issue and identify a solution. Reports have been ordered, some at KPHL’s expense, and a course of action has been agreed amongst the majority of the homeowners affected, the letter says.
“KPHL did not build the building in question and does not have any legal or moral obligation to fix the maintenance issues,” the letter says. “KPHL has gone above and beyond to use its knowledge of the development and its expertise to try to help the body corporate understand the nature of their maintenance issue and provide an acceptable and cost-effective solution to their problem. The parties involved have refused to come to mediation to discuss their issue yet continue to picket – this will only result in alienating KPHL.”
Mr Small says he has viewed the robo-camera footage taken inside the drainage pipes, which shows that the drain has collapsed at a couple of points.
He says the extent of the problem, and the potential cost of repairs, is disputed.
“The body corporate claims that the problem is actually more extensive and could run under the entire block,” Mr Small says. “Getting it sorted out is dragging residents through unnecessary anxiety.”
He says his attempts to mediate have so far been fruitless.
“The protests are harming Kensington Park’s image and dividing our community,” Mr Small says. “The protestors have made themselves unpopular and received some pretty confronting feedback from other residents.”
A letter was sent from KPHL’s lawyers to a group of three residents at the end of August regarding the ongoing protests.
Residents have so far not responded to Hibiscus Matters’ requests for an interview.
Body corporate chair Raewyn Thomas is also not prepared to comment at this stage, other than to say that the body corporate is conducting its own detailed investigation.