The Public Trust v JT [2019] NZFC 750

Published 11 June 2021

Property manager — consent to sell property — specified sum — family home — Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, s 36(1) — Re Lane [1990] NZFLR 79. The Public Trust was the Court-appointed property manager for the subject person. The Public Trust sought the Court's consent to sell the subject person's family home, at first instance to family members if possible, otherwise on the open market. Consent was sought as the value of the home exceeded the specified sum under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act ("the PPPR"). The subject person's outgoings for the subsequent 12 months would put her in a shortfall of over $27,000 and around $4,500 annually following that. This application was filed in June 2018 and no family members had put forward any other ideas to meet any current and projected debts. Under s 36(1) of the PPPR the property manager's first and paramount consideration must be to use the property in the promotion and protection of the best interests of the subject person, while seeking at all times to encourage that person to develop and exercise such competence as the person has to manage their own affairs in relation to the property. The property manager also has a duty to consult, including with the subject person's welfare guardian and family members. The subject person's health was at a state where she could not manage the property herself, but she had expressed a wish that the family home remain in the hands of family if possible. However a large portion of the subject person's debt was attributed to costs incurred by the Public Trust's failed attempt to work with the family to find a solution for the subject person's financial situation. The Judge found it was not in the best interests of the subject person to have a large debt accruing to her name. The family home was to be sold, as the Public Trust suggested, with the family being offered the first opportunity to purchase. Failing that the home was to be sold on the open market. Judgment Date: 30 January 2019. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *