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Leaky Homes Action Group

Leaky Homes Action Group

In response to the press release issued by Chris Carter, Minister of Building and Housing, “Smith and National responsible for BIA decisions”, it is typical of the whole leaky homes scandal that everybody involved wants to blame someone else and nobody wants to be held accountable or take responsibility.

What is important however is that the present government takes the problem seriously and recognises that thousands of distraught people throughout the country are not getting the level of help and support that is required from the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service.

Mr Carter’s comment “The government is only too aware of the strain the leaky buildings problem is placing on some families” is a sad reflection of the government being out of touch with what is actually going on.

The leaky building problem is not placing a strain on just some families, but all owners of leaky homes. The cases highlighted in the media and on our website are not necessarily special cases but are indicative of what’s happening to people all over the country.

Whilst it is reassuring that the government has enhanced the level of consumer protection in the new Building Act for future home owners, it doesn’t alter the fact that the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service is doing nothing to alleviate the financial and emotional distress being suffered by existing leaky home owners.

Owners of leaky homes registered with the WHRS must face:

• Having to fund crippling legal fees which can’t be reimbursed, “unless the adjudicator thinks that the party caused them unnecessarily through bad faith or through making unfounded allegations or objections.” • Having to base a claim on an assessors report when, by the very nature of the problem it is impossible to know the extent of the damage until all of the cladding is removed, the repair done and problems identified. Then the actual costs are known. • Having to fund an independent building report.

• Having to face being effectively put “on trial” at a mediation or adjudication in an adversarial situation to prove your case.

• Being able to fund the shortfall between the amount awarded and the actual cost of the repair (which can be more than 50%).

• There is no resolution of the problems for leaky home owners with the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service as it only partially resolves the initial situation for owners of leaky homes. It is then up to the owners to call for tenders, find a suitably qualified builder to do the remedial work and a building surveyor to oversee the project etc etc. A daunting task in itself for most people.

• Unless the leaky home owner can afford to relocate while the repairs are undertaken (which most people can’t), they must live through months of horrendous disruption while repairs are carried out and the toxic mould is exposed. The builders doing the repair work are required to be ‘suited up’ and wearing masks and yet the homeowner has to live through it unprotected.

Many people are simply not in a financial or emotional position to proceed through the WHRS system because of these facts.

The minister also states, “it would be completely inappropriate for the government to accept liability, and put at risk taxpayers money”, yet these people are taxpayers who relied on the integrity and expertise of the regulatory bodies such as the BIA and the enforcement of those regulations, but were badly let down.

These people need help now.

LEAKY HOMES ACTION GROUP http://www.leakyhomesactiongroup.org.nz

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