The Christchurch city council has been threatened with legal action if homes in South New Brighton are damaged in a flood.

The South New Brighton Residents' Association has issued a formal notice of liability to the city council, claiming it has failed to install proper flood protection north of Bridge St and south of Owles Tce.

The notice means if a flooding event does occur, the association could take the city council to court and may find it liable for damages.

A city council spokeswoman said it does not accept it would be liable if the area is flooded.

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"The council will not be making any changes to its current process as a result of the notice of liability. The council considers its recent decisions provide a satisfactory way forward for addressing current flooding issues," she said.

But association chairman Hugo Kristinsson believes the city council could be held liable under the Land Drainage Act and Soil, Conservation and Rivers Control Act.

"Also, we pay rates, which makes (city council) liable in my opinion. However, that defines determination in front of the courts," Kristinsson said.

How a potentially expensive legal case would be funded is unknown. "We will address that if it comes to it but I sincerely hope that we have a responsible local government that it doesn't have to come to that."

The notice mentions a number of errors and 'neglect' in the area since the earthquake.

This includes an error found in city council flooding mapping, resulting in a number of houses being built with extremely low floor levels. "A serious mistake for which no one has been held accountable," said the notice.

These houses required no resource consents and were built using 'existing use rights', an exemption under the Resource Management Act with floor levels as low as 11.27m above the Christchurch city datum.

"This is a breach of the Building Act, yet the council has taken no action to compensate the affected homeowners or to remedy their increased flood risk and loss of property," the notice reads.

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A temporary stop-bank exists on Kibblewhite St. It is less than 20m from housing directly opposite and is the only protection for a number of houses that are at a lower level than high tide.

River water leaks through at high tide and the stop-bank was almost breached during the flood event in July this year.