An Auckland family whose rental property has been illegally occupied by gang members since May have little choice but to wait for their day in court, legal experts say.
Ravina Prasad and Neelesh Chandra have been trying for eight months to remove the squatters from their house on Albert Street, Otahuhu.
Police told them the person occupying the property is Abraham Wharewaka jnr, a prominent Black Power member who is claiming ownership because his father used to live in the house 30 years ago.
Prasad and Chandra, whose names are on the property’s title, have taken action in both criminal and civil courts but are still waiting for a resolution to the dispute.
University of Auckland law professor Bill Hodge said the easiest and swiftest legal option was to trespass the squatters.
“Ordinarily police say this is a civil matter,” he said.
“But if there’s a breach of the peace, then the individual can call the police and they will generally attend if there’s a threat of violence.”
That has so far not solved the matter. Police have charged Wharewaka and his partner Shirlena Julian with wilful trespass, but the case was adjourned until March. In the meantime, they have warned Prasad not to visit the property or approach Wharewaka for safety reasons.
Faced with a long wait for the trespass case to be heard, Prasad began a civil case in August. Her family is seeking a judgement that they are the owners of the property. However, a first hearing date has not yet been scheduled.
Property law specialist Joanna Pidgeon said the homeowners were in a difficult position.