First blood to trust

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Queenstown’s affordable housing trust has landed the first blow in its scrap with the Charities Commission. 

In the Wellington High Court on Monday, the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust won a bid to restore its tax-exempt status pending an appeal against deregistration by the Charities Commission. 

“This is an initial victory for common sense,” trust chair David Cole says. 

The appeal will be in March next year. 

The trust was purged from the charities register last month, after being told it doesn’t meet a trust’s legal criteria. 

Cole estimates the trust will be liable for $500,000 in taxes annually, money which would otherwise go towards more shared-ownership homes. 

A Charities Commission spokesperson confirms its Crown Law representative didn’t oppose this week’s bid by the trust – but the spokesperson won’t elaborate because of the appeal. 

Meanwhile, Labour housing spokesperson Moana Mackey has drafted a Private Member’s Bill to counter the decision to purge the Queenstown trust from the charities register. 

It’s a dangerous precedent which could lead to the purging of other housing trusts elsewhere, she says. 

Her Bill, which must first win a ballot to proceed, would amend the Charities Act to include affordable-housing bodies.