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National Government caused leaky homes - Goff

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phil Goff
Phil Goff

Wellington, May 18 NZPA - Labour leader Phil Goff admits not enough was done under his party was in government to fix the leaky home problem, but says the crisis only happened because of changes a National administration made.

Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson yesterday announced the Government and local authorities would each contribute 25 percent of repair costs, with the homeowner picking up the remaining 50 percent.

Councils were yet to sign up to the package but Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast and Auckland Mayor John Banks were "confident of a buy-in" however they signalled rates increases were likely.

Those who take up the package lose the right to sue the Government and councils.

The leaky homes crisis -- estimated to cost more $11.3 billion to fix -- followed deregulation of the building industry, where a resulting lack of rules meant problems with design and products left thousands of homeowners with ongoing problems.

Issues included flaws in design, product, cladding, workmanship, rules and checks.

Mr Goff was asked today why the Labour Government did not do more to resolve the problem.

"We took it very seriously and of course Don Hunn was set up to chair a committee."

The recommendations of the 2002 Hunn report were implemented, Mr Goff said.

"Did they go far enough? No.

"But then I won't take criticism from John Banks who was part of the National Government that took away the regulations that led to leaky housing, nor to John or Kerry who are in charge of councils that gave consent to buildings that clearly weren't up to standard."

The new package was welcomed by Labour but Mr Goff said it left some homeowners out in the cold.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report last year estimated that 22,000 to 89,000 homes could be affected, with 42,000 likely to be leaky based on design and materials. Only about 3500 had been repaired.

Only homes flagged as leaky with the Department of Building and Housing within 10 years of being finished would be eligible. Based on some missing the 10-year qualifying period, officials estimated 23,500 would be eligible for the package -- leaving possibly tens of thousands to pursue other options.

"How's it going to be for those people that are two weeks over the ten year period?" Mr Goff said.

"They'll get nothing while somebody that can come in this week knowing what the new package is will get the 50 percent from Government and local government.

"So 9000 people will miss out and of course if Government and local government were going to cover half the cost, which is estimated at what over 11b, then you'd think the Government would be spending $5b or $6b not $1b.

Paul Grimshaw, of Grimshaw and Co, who works with leaky home clients, says he will advise them to continue with litigation.

"I'm not going to be telling the clients that they should effectively take only 25 percent from the council when if they go through the courts they can get 100 percent from the council."

Prime Minister John Key said there had been strong support for the package and from owners of leaky properties.

"The Government has put a lot of taxpayer dollars on the table and we are actually finding a solution that will see homes fixed.

"Now I acknowledge that there are some that miss out, it is a very complex area, and ultimately the 10-year time frame is one that's established in law and that was why we choose that. We think that has some fairness about it when it comes to both ratepayers and taxpayers but also homeowners."

Mr Key said people could chose to either take up the package or sue local or central government. They could not do both. However there was nothing to stop them taking action against contractors and others.

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