Evicted tenant says she’d rather be arrested than leave Grafton community hub

An eviction notice has been served to the residents of a central Auckland community hub – but the founder is refusing to leave, saying she’s prepared to be arrested if it comes to that.

Police were today called to the heritage villa on Grafton Rd that houses Hum, a community centre, café and home to at least 10 people, to serve the order. It comes after founder Rosie Armitage refused to leave following a High Court order for possession of the house to be given to the landlord.

The February 11 order cancelled the lease after a failure by Armitage to pay $1500 as a GST portion of rent.

But she says it’s been paid and she doesn’t plan to leave until she can fund lawyers to fight the cancellation of the lease application, lodged on behalf of the landlord Stylo Medical Services Limited.

When police and bailiffs arrived this afternoon, Armitage stood her ground.

She told the Herald residents of the house won’t be evicted today, but police will be in further communication and she is at risk of being arrested.

“I told them I will not be moving until I have formal representation that can handle this unlawful step properly … it’s not fair to me, it’s just trickery. I will not be vacating.

“I could be arrested in the future but hopefully we will have lawyers before then. I will be staying strong because this is unjust.”

Around 20 people were in the garden in front of the property socialising and listening to music during the confrontation.

Armitage claims she paid the GST portion in December but because it appeared on bank statements marked as ‘rates’, the landlord cancelled the lease.

“I’m not moving. This is unjust. We will lose everything over a $1500 payment that is not even due,” she said.

“My life has been totally overrun by litigation trying to save this house and I just need support.”

A barrister representing Stylo Medical Services, Ray Parmenter, was present while the trespass notice was served today.

He told the Herald the tenants “constantly failed to pay rent over time”. It has led to a lengthy legal stoush playing out in the High Court.

“I got the order for possession, the police and bailiffs turned up today to deliver eviction and trespass notices,” he said.

“Sometime in the next while, police will insist she ceases … she didn’t pay the full rent and she had been warned.”

Parmenter said over the years Armitage has avoided cancellation of the lease “at the last minute” by paying arrears.

Both parties had also engaged in ongoing legal proceedings in relation to the home’s Code of Compliance Certificate, which Armitage claims is deficient.

Armitage is now attempting to raise funds for lawyers to formally appeal against the application for cancellation of the lease, and finish her claim in relation to the Code of Compliance certificate.

“We will need to fundraise to pay for this. We need to do this properly and finish the claim,” she said.

She is not using free community lawyers because Hum is a social enterprise, and “their capacity to represent is limited”.

A Givealittle page has been set up to “keep the community investment secure”.

Hum, together with Falling Apple Charitable Trust, operates a social enterprise.

The project provides “a supportive and inclusive environment to foster culture, art, music, education, health, sustainability, and wellbeing in the community”. It is run by volunteers and all monies raised go back to the community.

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