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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
Satisfied Customers: 22148
Experience:  37 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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I bought a 'pre-loved' portable building in Auckland approx

Customer Question

I bought a 'pre-loved' portable building in Auckland approx a year ago - paid for it - but agreed with the seller that it could remain in their yard until I got consent to put it in my property up north. No agreement upon time as made - just a verbal - it could stay there until I got consent. Time passed - no communication between us and suddenly a few weeks ago - move your Portacom by the end of this month May - or we start charging you storage - fair enough. I go to site and see that in the last month - a digger has badly damaged 2 panels - cost to repair $1500 - but the seller refuses to accept responsibility for damage caused by their business in their yard. Do I have any right to sue them - or other for damages to my portacom that they have stored in their yard for over a year?
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: New Zealand Law
Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 5 months ago.
If someone agrees to store something for you this is called a bailment. The person storing the portable building has responsibilities under the law of bailment, which are to ensure that the item is not damaged. When there is no formal agreement to pay for the storage, the liability is limited. But nonetheless, they are liable because they agreed to store the building. I would suggested that the path forward may be to say that it is their responsibility to pay for any damage, and you suggested that instead of payment they agreed to store the building for a further period, and you can assess how long you will need before your land is ready.
Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 5 months ago.
They can charge for storage after they give notice that they wish to do so. So that will need to be discussed and you may want to check the market rates
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
No formal or written agreement to store - except " you can leave it here until you get your consent" meaning the no charge to leave it is assumed - does that constitute a verbal storage agreement?
I do not wish to leave it there any longer and can move it out so it will not be damaged further - My land up north does not technically need consent for the Portacom to be stored only - I do not wish to enter any more agreements as they want it out. However I just wish to ascertain liability - and get them to pay for it. I do not wish to leave it there as more damage could occur - however when its out of their possession - I will then consider the Small Claims Tribunal. Are you suggesting I present them with their responsibility prior to moving - so that they could change their minds and repair it? Regards
Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 5 months ago.
I think you are correct to raise the issue of damage after it is moved, just to be cautious, although you should take photos of course and perhaps get a builder to inspect and look for damage as an independent witness. Then ask them to pay, but if they dont, then the Disputes Tribunal is the next step. The verbal agreement is certainly binding, and is a bailment agreement
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Do you have any links to the 'bailment' law in NZ that I can read and/or swat up on to prepare for the Small Claims? With respect to Small Claims - the adjudicators - from past experience - don't give me 100% confidence that they know every specific law and how to apply it correctly - and I would be be doing myself a favour to read a bit more on this subject I have not been aware of.
Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 5 months ago.
If you have access to a public library you can look at the Laws of New Zealand, which is an encyclopaedia and has a chapter on this. Actually Wikipedia has a reasonable article too.

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