Financial Assistance deadline coming for leaky home owners19 Nov 11
Leaky home owners who already have eligible claims under the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service (WHRS) Act have until the 28th October 2011 to advise the Department of Building and Housing that they wish to be assessed for eligibility for the governments Financial Assistance Package (FAP).
“The 28th October deadline is more an administrative matter than anything else” says Roger Levie, Chief Executive of the Home Owners and Buyers Association. “The Crown and the Councils are trying to determine how many existing claimants are likely to take up the FAP. It is very important for existing claimants who want to keep the FAP option open that they notify the Department of Building and Housing in writing that they wish to have their eligibility checked. This will not commit the owner to taking the FAP if they decide an alternative approach will provide a better outcome, however it will ensure that this option is not excluded” says Mr Levie.
We understand that as a result of notifying the Department a claimant will be informed as to the likely contributors under the FAP. Where a local council was the certifier of the building it is likely that they will make a 25% contribution as will the Crown. If a private certifier was involved then the Council will not make a contribution however the Crown should still make its 25% contribution in this situation.
“The decision on contributions by the council and the Crown are very much dependent on the current situation in each case” says Mr Levie. “If the owners have commenced legal proceedings against the Council then it is unlikely that either the Council or the Crown will contribute. It also appears that if there is a Notice to Fix on a property then FAP eligibility is being declined.”
Mr Levie feels that comments made by the Minister for Building and Construction, Hon Maurice Williamson in Parliament recently are disingenuous. “To hear the Minister say that the uptake has been spectacular and that what the Government has put in place gives them a fantastic future I think is very misleading and no doubt upsetting to many leaky home owners. At this stage we understand that around 2,200 existing claimants have indicated their interest in the package. The Minister seems to have forgotten that there are somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 leaky homes across the country and over half of these now fall outside 10 years and will not be eligible for any compensation whatsoever.
Of course owners with properties that were privately certified would indicate their interest in the FAP” says Mr Levie. “For most of these a 25% contribution under the FAP is the only money they are likely to get to help them repair. The problem for these owners is that many will not be able to fund their 75% portion of the repair cost leaving them without an answer. If the Government really wanted to do something that would make a difference for these owners they would increase their contribution to 50% in these situations given that poor monitoring by the BIA/DBH and flawed legislation lead to this situation.”
As the FAP details have only been out for three months and the process to get to the point where repairs commence and money is paid out is fairly long and complicated, very little money will have actually been paid out under the scheme to date.
“We will certainly be watching with interest and guiding our members toward a FAP solution where this makes sense” says Mr Levie. “This is however far from a solution for leaky homes owners and in our view is a very weak response to a catastrophic problem affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of good New Zealanders” says Mr Levie.
The 28th October deadline does not impact on owners who have not yet applied to the WHRS as their FAP eligibility will be assessed at the same time as overall eligibility. These owners do however need to be acutely aware that they only have 10 years from the time the homes were built or altered to access the WHRS system.