16 Sep 2019

Auckland developer to be prosecuted for billing home buyers separately for basics

3:43 pm on 16 September 2019

An Auckland developer who billed affordable home buyers separately for driveways and other basics, pushing their houses outside the affordable cap, is being prosecuted.

Shelley and Jonathan Jansen are pleased Auckland Council are investigating affordable developer Imperial Homes.

Some home buyers had to pay tens of thousands of dollars more for an affordable home than they had anticipated. Photo: Jonathan Jansen

Imperial Homes will face 42 charges brought by the Auckland Council and its directors could face up to two years in prison.

The company was given fast tracked consent to build homes at Scott Point in Hobsonville under Special Housing Area rules which meant it had to provide a certain number of affordable homes.

But, as RNZ reported in April, some buyers said it then tried to force them to pay tens of thousands more than the $636,000 maximum for an affordable home by saying they still owed them for basic landscaping like driveways and fences.

Auckland Council's manager of regulatory compliance, Steve Pearce, said it was charging Imperial Homes Limited and related companies Imperial Homes North West Limited and Imperial Garden Investment Limited with breaching the Resource Management Act.

The directors and sales agents would also be charged.

At the time, Imperial's legal counsel said it was entitled to charge extra for the landscaping because the affordable cap referred only to the "dwellings" themselves.

It said the extra charges had been made clear to buyers in sales and purchase agreements.

Under the Resource Management Act, the maximum penalty was $600,000 for the company and $300,000 or two years imprisonment for the individuals.

Some buyers had told RNZ they felt let down by Auckland Council and its failure to properly police Special Housing Areas meaning developers could get away with not upholding their end of the bargain.

But the chair of the council's planning committee, Chris Darby, said as soon as they became aware of the problem they took it seriously.

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