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Residents will have to ‘take it or leave it’

MP for Christchurch East
18 August 2011

Residents will have to ‘take it or leave it’

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority is telling lawyers more about the package being offered to insured red zone residents than it is telling the residents themselves, says Labour’s Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel.

“CERA has organised a workshop for lawyers, but not for insured red-zoned residents in relation to the package for the Crown acquiring their properties. No attempt has been made to engage residents at this stage of the process,” Lianne Dalziel said.

“MPs representing electorates where almost all the 5100 red-zone properties are situated have received no official advice from Minister Gerry Brownlee about documents on the New Zealand Law Society website.

“The Minister only publicised the link to the website this morning after I was declined leave by the government to table the information in Parliament yesterday.

“Labour MPs have made repeated requests for residents to be fully engaged in a process which will have a huge impact on their future,” Lianne Dalziel said.

“The society’s website has details of the package for the Crown Acquisition of Insured Residential Red Zone Properties, and the society says CERA has organised a workshop for lawyers this evening at the University of Canterbury from 5pm to 7pm. The society says, ‘it is not anticipated that there will be any changes to these documents prior to the initial mailing of letters of offer [to residents] on Friday’.

“However, no workshops have been planned for red-zone residents,” Lianne Dalziel said. “Why not? Surely they are entitled to know exactly what’s happening too, or are they not regarded as capable of understanding what is being done for or to them?

“There are several worrying aspects of the Government’s approach as a result of presenting people with a ‘take it or leave it’ option.

“The trouble is that the letters of offer will come ahead of knowing what the insurer is prepared to offer to settle the claim or what the value of the EQC payout on their land could be. In fact if the EQC decides that the land is uneconomic to repair and the cash settlement is greater than the rating valuation for the land, people who accepted the land only option will receive a cheque for the difference – but that could be months down the track.

“Why would people spend money on a lawyer to get advice now, when they don’t have all the facts in front of them?

“To add insult to injury, without proof of a building permit, residents who have made alterations to their home since the 2007 valuation was done will not have these improvements reflected in the value of their property.

“I know there are people who have spent thousands doing up their house. People will find out that it was money down the drain when the offer comes.

“While I appreciate that many people just want to take the money and run because it is a good deal for them, this is going to hit some people really hard and it could have been avoided by engaging with affected residents in meaningful way,” Lianne Dalziel said.


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