Stranded investors join forces

More than 200 out-of-pocket property investors want to band together to discuss their options after having problems with Auckland firm Taradale Properties and its large-scale housing projects.

Lawyer Paul Grimshaw said he was preparing to file a $1 million-plus claim against Taradale over leaky homes at many of its housing projects around Auckland. He expects the claim to be filed by mid-year.

A second group of at least 40 investors who lost money through the cancellation of Taradale's $12 million Botany Downs project, The Orchard, also want to meet.

Pakuranga resident Peter Funston, who paid a $22,000 deposit on a unit there, said he was keen to hear from others in the same predicament.

Taradale pre-sold the units. Many buyers said the first they knew that their new houses would not be built was via the Herald on Friday, when Funston said the vineyard-themed housing project was cancelled, later confirmed by Taradale founder Tim Manning.

Taradale had pulled out of The Orchard in Manukau City because of potential leaky building problems there, said Manning, making the 49-unit condominium project infeasible. Investors who had paid deposits would get their money back this week, he promised.

A third group of investors who are owed money also want to get together. These are the 155 people who were guaranteed rental income from three leisure resorts developed by Taradale in Queenstown and Rotorua. They have established Taradale Investor Support, whose email address is TIS@orion.co.nz

An Auckland investor who paid $330,000 for a unit at Greenstone Villas - part of Greenstone Terrace - at Queenstown said he was owed nearly $6000 in unpaid rent and had posted the email address to discuss issues with other investors.

Manning said he did not want Taradale's name associated with the problems at Queenstown and Rotorua as they were mainly the fault of a property management business.

Investors bought into Marama Point near Rotorua, Greenstone Terrace and The Whistler at Queenstown with rental returns guaranteed for up to two years at 7 per cent.

But Manning said the fact that rent stopped flowing to unit-owners late last year was not Taradale's fault.

Taradale had developed the three resorts and an associated business, Taradale Finance & Investments, had arranged loans. But he said the management and rental guarantees were in the hands of a property manager, College Property Management.

Manning acknowledged he was a director of College - along with business associate Gary McNabb.

Six firms jointly owned by Manning and McNabb involved in managing the resorts - Marama Resort, Marama Leases, Greenstone Management, Greenstone Leases, Whistler Queenstown Management and Whistler Queenstown Leases - are in interim liquidation.

Late last year these companies filed a statutory demand for $470,000 against the Taradale companies that developed the resorts. This was for rent owed to investors.

Interim liquidator Paul Sargison, of Auckland accounting firm Gerry Rea Associates, is due to release a report this week on what went wrong.

The matter will go back to the High Court at Auckland on March 6, when Sargison expects the companies to be put into full liquidation. Meanwhile, talks are being held with businesses that could take over managing the resorts.