Sunday, June 21, 2009

Man acts to wind up firm over rent dispute

A disgruntled buyer of a New Zealand waterfront property has moved to wind up the company that sold it to him.

Mr Roy Titchmarsh, 58, who bought the apartment a year ago when it was marketed here, said he is owed about $70,000 in guaranteed leaseback returns.

The Briton noted that the company, Wensley Developments, returned to Singapore two weekends ago to market yet another Queenstown property, The Marina.

Mr Titchmarsh, who is chief operating officer of a ship management company, said he bought a Wensley property called The Club in Queenstown. He did not want to say how much he paid.

He added he had a deal with a sub-company called Wensley Developments The Club which agreed to lease the apartment from him for two years and guaranteed him a 13 per cent annual return. ‘I received the first payment, but soon after that, the payments stopped. The name Wensley Developments The Club was also changed to New Zealand Resorts,’ he said.

‘Because I had an agreement only with Wensley Developments The Club, I had no guarantee under the new company name,’ he added. He said that Wensley Developments The Club went into liquidation last November and he was told he could not claim any money.

He got lawyers in New Zealand to send Wensley Developments two statutory demands for payments. When it missed the deadline of the second, winding-up proceedings were lodged against the company.

Contacted by The Sunday Times, the New Zealand-based Wensley Developments said it started suffering financial difficulty when the recent credit crunch hit. According to Mr Greg Wensley, one of the directors, the company has ‘experienced trouble arranging enough funding for normal needs’.

Mr Nic Soper, Mr Titchmarsh’s lawyer, said six other clients have issued statutory demands against another sub-company, Wensley Developments The Shore. All the clients are from outside New Zealand.

He added: ‘Winding-up proceedings have been lodged against Wensley Developments Limited and Wensley Developments The Shore in respect to unpaid guaranteed rental.’

An online article last month in a New Zealand paper, The Southland Times, said Wensley Developments is NZ$23 million (S$21 million) out of pocket after buyers reneged on payments for apartments in Queenstown.

Mr Wensley said that along with ‘our financiers, we are committed to honouring our commitments’.
He added that Mr Titchmarsh is ‘one of two that we have not been able to reach agreement with at this stage, although negotiations are ongoing’.

‘We owe him three months of rental payments. He now receives directly the income that is earned from the sub-lease of the apartment,’ he said.

Mr Titchmarsh claimed he is not getting this payment at all.

Mr Wensley added that new customers will receive their guaranteed returns or leaseback payments upfront in full.

Wensley Developments marketed five developments here in the last eight years. It is not known how many apartments were bought by Singaporeans.

The apartments cost between NZ$350,000 and NZ$3.45 million.

Source: Sunday Times, 21 June 2009

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