The Dominion Post
‘Evicted’ mother, epileptic son allowed to stay
A mother and son are exhausted but relieved after their two-month stoush with a Hawke’s Bay disability housing provider ended in a win.
Bronny Edwards’ son, who has epilepsy, refused to leave his home for two months despite a seven-day eviction notice served in March, after the Napier floods caused a slip behind his house.
The house was unscathed, but despite this, his housing provider deemed the property unsafe on the basis of a geotechnical report by engineering company RDCL.
Edwards, who acts as her son’s caregiver, contacted the Tenancy Tribunal, and on Monday received the good news that, after a second report, the housing provider was backing down.
‘‘I feel so zonked,’’ Edwards said. ‘‘It’s taken its toll. I’ve been worrying for two solid months now.’’
The house is owned by Ka¯ inga Ora, the Crown agency that provides rental housing for New Zealanders in need, and is managed by Hawke’s Bay organisation Whatever It Takes (WIT), whose services include social housing. According to its website, it manages 65 rental properties.
On November 9 last year, 242 millimetres of rain flooded many parts of Napier and caused several slips. Part of the Napier Hill collapsed on to a property next door to Edwards’ son’s house, with some debris landing in the garden, but it didn’t affect the house.
‘‘I reported the slip to Civil Defence. A Fire and Emergency crew inspected the slip and confirmed that his home was safe to remain in,’’ she said. Her son moved back in on December 4.
This report, which Edwards obtained through the OIA, recommended that the house remain empty until the dirt was removed, loose material up the slope secured, and further damage assessments done. It did not say that the house was unsafe to live in.
Ka¯inga Ora regional director east North Island Naomi Whitewood said that from its perspective, the property was affected to the point of being unsafe.
Edwards’ son, who The Dominion Post has agreed not to name, had experienced a huge increase in the frequency of his seizures because of the stress.
A Tenancy Tribunal hearing was scheduled in April, but was adjourned and set for May 6. But Edwards received a call from WIT on Monday to say the eviction notice had been cancelled after the second report found that ‘‘the imminent risk of damage to the site under normal rainfall events is minimal’’. WIT has been approached for comment.