Mayor Dave Cull says he feels for the owners of a Clyde Street student flat, who are facing prosecution after taking on a property that had undergone illegal alterations.
Alan and Kay McKay bought the 99 Clyde Street property from its former owners in December 2013. They are now seeking retrospective resource consent after work was done to create two extra rooms by knocking out walls in the living room.
The additions mean the property has 13 bedrooms, two more than the allowable number for the three-unit property.
Cull says although both parties are in line to face disciplinary action, the buyers have been hard done by.
“Whoever knowingly broke the law is the one who should face the consequences.”
However, the council’s Resource Consent Manager Alan Worthington says there is a buyer beware element to the situation and the McKays will have to pay the price for that.
“Unfortunately they didn’t apply for a LIM (Land Information Memorandum), which would have pointed these things out. There is some sympathy there but, ideally, when you’re making a significant investment like this, you do the research.
“It is a live matter and the consent application is still in progress, but there is some likelihood the owners will face some repercussions.”
Worthington did not want to speculate on the likely punishment for the owners or the original developers. However, he hinted it was safe to assume the punishment for the developer would fall in line with that handed down last year to student property landlords who made similar alterations.
In that case, the landlords sub-divided two-bedroom units on three separate sites over three years, and were fined $15,000 for each.
“This case is really stimulated by those ones from last year,” said Worthington. “The judge ruled the alterations were not a major issue in isolation, but cumulatively they were a concern.”
“The infrastructure is getting on in some of these properties and there is a limited capacity for extensions. Those extensions compromised the infrastructure around water and waste.”
Council Planner Daryl Sycamore recommended in a recent council hearing that resource consent be declined as it would set a precedent for similar applications.
In response, Conrad Anderson, representing the McKays in the hearing, said granting consent would not create a precedent as the person who built the rooms will more than likely be prosecuted.
The property has a current rateable value of $1.43 million.