Napier Hill eviction standoff: Disabled tenant wins battle to remain in home after Napier floods

A disabled man has won the battle to stay in his home after Kāinga Ora served him a seven-day eviction notice because of a slip near the property during the Napier floods.

The man’s mother, Bronwyn Edwards, fought the eviction decision by Whatever It Takes Trust Inc (WIT), which manages the tenancy.

Her son, a grand mal epileptic whom Hawke’s Bay Today has decided not to name, was asked to vacate the Milton Rd property on Napier Hill after a geotechnical report by Kāinga Ora.

But Edwards insisted the house was not uninhabitable, and her son would have had nowhere safe to go.

A new GeoTech report on April 1 deemed the house safe, leading to both parties cancelling their complaints against each other a day before the tribunal on May 6.

But Edwards said after “two months of hell” the victory was bittersweet.

“We’re happy that common sense has prevailed, but it has come with a price,” she said.

“An apology might go some way towards helping, but WIT needs to be held accountable for the terrible way they’ve managed it.”

A Kāinga Ora spokeswoman said the agency will “always err on the side of caution” to ensure the safety of residence.

“Our priority is the safety of the people who live in our homes,” she said. “We will continue to assess the condition of a home and its safety following events such as flooding, based on the best information at the time.”

The deluge on November 9, in which 242mm of rain fell in a day, brought a slip down close to a neighbouring property, with shrubbery and dirt falling onto the garden of Edwards’ son’s home.

But the slip never touched his house or garden shed.

Nonetheless, on February 11, Edwards was sent an email by WIT telling them to arrange alternative accommodation.

After a Napier City Council building inspector judged the property liveable, Edwards’ son moved back in before a seven-day eviction notice was served on March 5.

Section 52 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 allows landlords to evict tenants after seven days if houses are “destroyed” or “so seriously damaged as to be uninhabitable”.

Claiming the use of the act to evict her son was “invalid”, she hired a lawyer and filed a complaint to the Tenancy Tribunal.

“We all knew this place is safe. I’d never let my son live here if it wasn’t,” Edwards said.

She said although the standoff is over, the stress had triggered her 39-year-old son to suffer several seizures.

She said her son’s epilepsy can cause him to have more than 20 seizures a week, some severe and violent, and have the potential to leave him seriously injured.

Whatever It Takes Trust Inc has been contacted for comment.

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