Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Leaky payout plan works - Govt

Maurice Williamson says he has seen no evidence homes assistance scheme is overly bureaucratic.

Maurice Williamson said this Government was the first to offer assistance to owners of leaky homes after nine years of Labour ducking responsibility. Photo / Richard Robinson
Maurice Williamson said this Government was the first to offer assistance to owners of leaky homes after nine years of Labour ducking responsibility. Photo / Richard Robinson

The Government has defended its leaky home rescue package - saying 24 homeowners got full payments to fix their places, doubling the previously declared 12.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said the number of Financial Assistance Package claimants was rising but it took time to complete assessments, plans, get quotes, builders and consents for the work to start.

Roger Levie of the Homeowners and Buyers Association described the numbers as "insignificant" given the scope of the $11 billion to $22 billion disaster.

The ministry is handling 1598 active claims on 4638 residences of which 1234 claims were active and 1122 claims for 3445 properties had been assessed as qualifying for the council and government contribution to fund half the repairs.

Payouts totalled $1.68 million for 43 claims and out of these, 24 homeowners had completed repairs and received their full FAP contribution, the ministry said.

Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson said the Government was the first to offer any compensation to leaky home victims after successive Labour-led regimes during nine years rejected assuming any responsibility for the disaster.

The new FAP system was tough but it was working "at this point in time on the date curve". He had seen no evidence the assistance was overly bureaucratic or cumbersome.

The ministry's deputy chief executive for service delivery, Maria Robertson, released figures to lawyer Tim Rainey showing only 12 claims got the full contribution by September 30 but the ministry said this number had now risen to 24.

PwC estimates between 22,000 and 89,000 houses have weathertightness issues and last year the Government started its $1 billion FAP, widely criticised this week by experts trying to help victims.

Mr Levie said 24 repairs since the scheme was backdated to November 2010 was farcical.

"The numbers are insignificant given the size of the problem and given the limited funds available to help owners repair," he said.

"We need to be making sure this is being spent to repair and not support a bureaucracy set up around the administration of the scheme.

"The starting point for the whole Government response is wrong and the system is created in an environment of mistrust. Most people just want enough money to get their homes repaired."

Leaky home victim Alan Bailey yesterday said he got $37,000 from the Government towards a six-month $170,000 fix on his Lynfield house.

"The average person would not stand a show," he said of the scheme, complaining of long delays and excessive paperwork and complication.

"I've got two boxes full of documents here," Mr Bailey said, telling how a state-employed quantity surveyor took nine months to approve bills.

"I never got an answer about why it took that long," said the former real estate agent.

Cladding was stripped and replaced and bathroom tiles renewed in the house he bought in 2004 for $520,000.

The Auckland Council did not have to foot 25 per cent of the repair bill because the house was inspected and certified by private certifiers which annoyed Mr Bailey who asked how many others suffered this plight.

Onehunga unit owner Scott Whineray said the state scheme failed apartment owners because everyone had to prove they had their share of money, necessary to make repairs and qualify for the Government's 25 per cent yet some people were too poor.

The FAP was hard enough for an individual homeowner to navigate, he said, but for multi-unit complexes it was a completely unworkable nightmare.

- NZ Herald

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