Home sold to pay water bill

Metro Water wins court order to sell couple’s home

In an unprecedented move, Auckland City Council-controlled Metro Water Limited obtained a court order to sell an Avondale couple’s home to settle a $3,445 water bill.

Last month, Luapo and Maria Iosefa’s world was shattered when Metro Water lawyers placed their family home with Barfoot and Thompson, for auction on 10 March 2010.  Both say they were unaware that Metro Water had sought the order.  Metro Water obtained the sell order in a default judgment when the Iosefas failed to appear.

Luapo and Maria Losefa.

The Iosefa’s lawyer Peter Jacobson tried to sort out the matter with acting Metro Water solicitors City Law after inspection of the court files determined the necessary affidavits for service were missing.  Those attempts failed and City Law solicitor Michael Tolhurst reportedly sought to strong-arm the Iosefas by contacting their mortgage lender – after representing to the Court that partial service had been effected at the wrong address.

Mr Tolhurst could not be reached for comment.

High Court Deputy Registrar Heather Bowles revoked the judgment late yesterday afternoon on the ground it was obtained through flawed procedure.

Mr and Mrs Iosefa are reportedly relieved but deeply troubled by the heavy-handed actions of Metro Water lawyers who easily ran up more in legal bills than the debt they sought to collect.  Throughout their ordeal no City Councillor would talk to them about their plight.  Mangere MP Sua William Sio was the only elected official who would meet.

Water Pressure Group Spokesperson Penny Bright, who helped to uncover the legal irregularities, believes the Iosefas were targeted because they refused to pay their bill until Metro Water fulfilled their commitments to address their complaint under the CCO’s formal dispute resolution process.

Just before Christmas, Ms Bright and a small group of protestors stood down Metro Water officers who sought to impose a whopping $50,000 levy upon two Kingsland sisters simply because they refused to allow digging in their backyard without the required consultation process.  In that case, Metro Water Head of Strategy and Marketing Linda Danen waived the overwhelming surcharge after Police responded to the scene