Leaky-home win sparks law change

An Auckland couple's court win over their leaky home has forced the Government to change the law.

John and Helen Osborne won a legal battle in the Supreme Court last year, arguing that the 10-year limitation on leaky-building claims should start from when the property is issued with a code of compliance by the council, not when construction is completed.

The Government has now agreed to amend legislation around its financial assistance package to leaky-home owners. It will extend the repair scheme to about 70 additional homeowners, meaning they do not need to take their cases to court.

A second change to the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act extends the life of package. It was due to expire on July 23 next year.

Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith said homeowners who were actively pursuing claims at that date could continue to do so.

he Government has moved to close a technical loophole pointed out by the High Court. The eligibility criteria will now be laid out in the legislation instead of in the Gazette notice by regulation.

Smith said this provided "legal certainty so that their validity cannot be questioned".

He said the changes provided "sensible refinements" to the act and he expected them to get cross-party support.

National introduced the package in 2010 when it was estimated that 89,000 homes were leaky.

Under the scheme, the Government and local authorities would both meet 25 per cent of homeowners' repair costs.

The property owners had to find the remaining 50 per cent. A loan guarantee would be underwritten by the Government if applicants met bank lending criteria.

- Stuff