Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Smith backs 100 leaky home victims

Andrew Swan.
Andrew Swan.

About 100 leaky building victims whose claims were rejected because they were beyond a 10-year threshold may now get help to fix their homes.

Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith said if the Supreme Court did not clarify the situation, he might need to introduce legislation to enable about 100 victims to get justice.

Last month the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Auckland home-owners John and Helen Osborne, setting a precedent to allow other victims outside the 10-year rule to be allowed to take their cases ahead and win compensation, Dr Smith said.

But Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) officials told Dr Smith they could not allow the other 100 cases to go ahead - a situation he said was unacceptable.

"Immediately after the Supreme Court gave its decision on the Osborne case, the ministry sent out [letters] in response to inquiries, saying their legal interpretation is we are unable to open their cases. At their weekly meeting with me, I said that was unsatisfactory.

"There has been an application to the court by [lawyer] Tim Rainey asking the Supreme Court to declare the ministry and [Weathertight Homes] Tribunal should apply the Osborne decision to all similar cases."

The 100 claimants had been told about the situation, Dr Smith said.

The Supreme Court clarified the start time for the 10-year period: when a code compliance certificate was issued by a local council, not when construction of the property ended.

An MBIE spokesperson referred inquiries to Dr Smith, who said he was confident of a resolution.

Almost home

Andrew Swan is one of the about 100 leaky building victims fighting to get their claims allowed, after last month's Supreme Court decision. As a trustee of an entity which owns a St Heliers property, he was told by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment that his claim could not be reopened because it had been lodged outside the 10-year time limitation. But he is more hopeful now: "The latest letter said they were changing direction."

- NZ Herald

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