New Zealand Law
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A verbal contract is just as good as a written contract provided the terms and conditions are clear. If they agreed that they would not leave you holding the lease, that is a promise to keep giving you work until the lease expired. That is really a promise to either provide work to enable you to pay the rent, or to help you with the rental if they didn't give you any work or enough work. So you can claim a breach of promise, which is a form of breach of contract in which you say that they promised to give you work or help with the lease, but failed to do so leaving you with the cost of the lease at $30,000 plus of course what they owe for the outstanding invoices
I would suggest the 1st step might be to instruct a lawyer who could write a full letter making demand for the breaches of contract and to the debt which you have incurred for rental. You need to consider what your damages are, and come up with a calculation for the amount which you have actually suffered as losses. If this was under $15,000, you could make a claim in the Disputes Tribunal. For this you do not need a lawyer. If the claim is for a lot more, then you would need to file a claim in the District Court, and you would need a lawyer with experience in court litigation.
Another option would be to make the calculations, and then see if you can reach a settlement by way of a commercial mediation, using a professional mediator. This would be much cheaper than a court proceeding, and help preserve the family connection
Great, please feel free to ask further