It’s not their house

Stuff reports:

Two brothers fighting for  to be returned to their family say preserving their heritage should trump government red tape.

“It’s very important with this cultural heritage that we are not alienated from it because [the government] wants to follow some blind policy,” Geoff Vogel said.

Geoff and his brother Tim are fighting for the multimillion-dollar Lower Hutt home, built in 1933 for their grandparents, James and Jocelyn Vogel as a wedding present. …

In 1965, Jocelyn gifted the stately home to the Government, which has decided to dispose of the property, citing high maintenance costs.

With respect, it is not their house. It was gifted by their grandmother to the Crown. She could have stated that it was to be returned to the family, if ever not needed. She didn’t.

The Government has decided to offload the home to two charities that are beneficiaries of Jocelyn’s will – Wellington SPCA and the Vogel Charitable Trust, which gives grants to the needy in Lower Hutt.

I believe in respecting the terms of the will.

Geoff added: “The government has had 50 years’ free use of it and need to man up and give us our house back.”

It is called a gift, made by their grandmother. That’s not free use. That is receiving a gift.

This property is held under the Land Act 1948. Under this legislation, the Crown land commissioner decides how the property should be disposed of and, in this case, has ruled it should go to the two charities.

Under the act, anyone aggrieved by the commissioner’s decision can apply for a rehearing, which the Vogels are in the process of doing.

If the commissioner ultimately rules in their favour, the Vogels intend to live in the house with their families, if they decide they can afford its maintenance costs.

That reads to me that they could very well sell it.

They have every right to test their case in court. But they are also trying to test their case by trial of media.

He acknowledged selling was an option the brothers would have to address, if they were unable to meet ongoing costs.

“If it’s far too expensive to maintain, then the only other realistic option is to sell it.”

So it is about the money. Fair enough. The property is valued at just under $4 million. Who wouldn’t want $4 million for nothing.

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