Parents win legal battle over house son told them was bought in their name

The couple took their son to court for an Auckland home that was bought in 2006 for $249,000

Parents win legal battle over house son told them was bought in their name

A couple have won an appeal against their son who double-crossed them in a property purchase for a south Auckland house he said he bought in their name but hadn’t.

Amin and Usha Siddiqui​ immigrated to New Zealand with their two children in 1991. By 2006, the son had bought his own home while his parents continued to rent.

An arrangement between Ashish and his parents enabled them to buy a house in Manurewa, south Auckland in May 2006 for $249,000, which was fully funded by mortgage finance.

Ashish told his parents his father’s name was in the title. However, it was revealed two years later that the house was, in fact, registered in the name of the son and his wife, prompting the “surprised and disappointed” parents to take their son to court, Stuff reported.

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The parents paid the mortgage and all other expenses on the property, including ground rates, water rates, insurance as well as maintaining the property.

“Quite what the son believed is not exactly clear. His accounts were inconsistent, and he made a very poor witness,” Justice Stephen Kós said.

Ashish claimed in court his parents were mere licensees and the money paid to him, which the parents believed was for the mortgage, was actually rent.

In an appeal to the Court of Appeal, Ashish and his wife said the constructive trust should have been based on reasonable expectations, which would have given them equity on the property. They also challenged the costs awarded, Stuff reported.

Amin and Usha then cross-appealed over the adjustments, with a focus on the expenses by the son on bathroom renovations.

At the High Court, Justice Paul Davison found that the parents weren’t told by either the son or his wife that they were not owners but renters.

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The parents continued to pay the mortgage until April 2015, after the son and his wife continued to deny the parents’ ownership.

“To grant them a proportionate interest in equity would be to reward their own wrong, and to fail to do equity,” Justice Kós said. “The better response was the judge’s, which was to require the parents, as now-confirmed owners, to reimburse the mortgage payments made on their behalf.”

The son and his wife told the High Court that they forked out $20,000 for the new bathroom.

Justice Davison found there was no evidence to show the son was reimbursed by the parents for any of the bathroom costs they paid for and held that the sum of $18,500 was more appropriate.

Amin and Usha argued the evidence did not show Ashish made the payments, or they related to bathroom renovations at all. In some instances, the evidence showed the parents, and not the son, made payments.

The adjustment awarded to the son for bathroom renovations was reduced from $18,500 to $8,460 due to unsatisfactory oral evidence.

Mortgage payments made by the son and his wife for six years from 2015, which totalled $91,188, would be repaid by the parents, while the parents would receive interest on mortgage overpayments of $25,879.

Ashish and his wife were also required to pay costs, Stuff reported.