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Homes unsafe to occupy

3 August 2011

Homes unsafe to occupy

Christchurch City Council is appealing to owners of homes that have received notices prohibiting entry because of rockfall or land movement hazards to vacate their homes for their own safety.

Around 500 homes on the Port Hills, including Lyttelton, have been issued notices under the Building Act because they are at risk from rockfall, land movement or other geotechnical hazards caused by recent earthquakes. The safety of residents is the top priority in issuing these notices.

Council General Manager Regulation and Democracy Services Peter Mitchell says the Council takes the risk very seriously and will take steps to ensure people remain out of homes which have received notices prohibiting entry under section 124 of the Building Act.

"We are extremely concerned for the safety of any residents in this situation and we urge them to heed the Building Act notices for their own safety.

"If enforcement is required those property owners will be served with a notice to fix - this is effectively an immediate order to vacate the property. Further enforcement activity could follow that if the notice to fix is not followed.

"While we understand that it is difficult for people who can not be in their homes, we must make safety the number one priority. The notices have been issued for good reason and it is very important that people follow them," Mr Mitchell says.

The Council is awaiting the result of geotechnical reports before decisions are made regarding the reoccupation of houses. Decisions will be made with input from a number of organisations through a robust process that has the safety of people and their homes as its main aim.

The process for the removal of red placards is still being developed and peer reviewed by an international expert in rockfalls to ensure that it is consistent with international best practice. The earthquakes of 13 June have had an impact on timelines as the priority has shifted to the reassessment of danger and immediate remedial work. Residents will be kept informed as this process is developed and timeframes established.

Residents are advised to contact their insurance company to discuss how their policies can be used to provide assistance during the time that notices are in effect. For information on Government assistance that may be available to some homeowners, visit the Support and Assistance section of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority website here.


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