Twenty-one properties in The Lakes are to be evacuated today.

In a statement, Tauranga City Council said its chief executive Garry Poole has today issued a warrant to evacuate the properties at The Lakes partially built by the liquidated developer, Bella Vista Homes, to avoid immediate danger.

The Lakes residents Jenny and Damian Coffey told the Bay of Plenty Times they have only just found out this afternoon that they have to get out of their house. They have four dogs.

The couple live at 311 Lakes Boulevard. They moved in in December 2016 with a full code of compliance.

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It was a Bella Vista home.

Jenny got a call about 2.50pm this afternoon from a neighbour saying she better get home, and asked whether she had heard about what was happening.

A notice on the door of one of the properties. Photo/supplied
A notice on the door of one of the properties. Photo/supplied

Jenny rushed home and found a note on the door. She couldn't get hold of her husband so went to his work.

"Because I can't deal with this on my own.

"We're really worried about what this actually means for us. We've been told that we have to take all of our stuff for a week and what does that actually mean?

"I'm really angry because this is the first I've ever heard of it and they're [the council] saying that they'll cover all of our costs but that upheaval that we weren't expecting and we've lived here for 18 months and now we're being told that we can't be in our home due to our own health and safety reasons."

Residents are arriving home to find notices on their doors. One man just got back from work to find the notice. It was the first he had heard of it.

Urgency needed

Tauranga City Council chief executive Garry Poole says the evacuation order of 21 Tauranga homes is a unique situation and the council's hand had largely been forced by Bella Vista Homes.

This morning the council said it received advice from a geotechnical specialist that the properties need to be vacated from today.

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The council understands that up to 13 of those properties are occupied.

Part of the reason for this urgency is the potential weather event forecast to hit next week.

However, there is also a specific slope that is not retained, and that is at risk of failing. For this reason, the council has had to act urgently.

The council has attempted to contact all owners of these properties and is organising temporary accommodation for them.

A December photograph of mess left at a Bella Vista development after their liquidation. Photo/file
A December photograph of mess left at a Bella Vista development after their liquidation. Photo/file

The warrant to evacuate has been issued under section 129 of the Building Act, and gives the council the ability to carry out works on the properties.

Following the liquidation of that company on November 30, the council launched a comprehensive assessment of all the homes, which has included inspections by building and engineering specialists, the statement read.

The homes are in varying stages of completion, and the assessment was to establish what needs to be done to ensure all of the homes in the subdivision are compliant with the building code.

Evacuee Jenny Coffey found out this afternoon that she has to get out of her house. Photo/George Novak
Evacuee Jenny Coffey found out this afternoon that she has to get out of her house. Photo/George Novak

"This is a unique situation due to the insolvency and liquidation of Bella Vista Homes prior to the completion of the development and the decision by some homeowners to occupy their homes," the statement read.

"Council acknowledges that homeowners have faced an upsetting and challenging time and is committed to supporting owners at this time.

"The expert assessments on the properties are expected to be completed over the coming weeks."

The council said as its assessment of the properties is ongoing it could not go into further details, but there are some issues they are looking at.

'Unique' situation

At a press conference this afternoon, Tauranga City Council chief executive Garry Poole said the situation was one of the most unique he had encountered and its hand had largely been forced by Bella Vista Homes.

However, the council's focus right now was on ensuring homeowners were being looked after, he said.

Poole said there were 21 properties and 13 families affected.

Tauranga City Council chief executive Garry Poole at a press conference today. Photo/Andrew Warner
Tauranga City Council chief executive Garry Poole at a press conference today. Photo/Andrew Warner

The council was focusing on getting them, including pets, out and into other accommodation before 8pm to allow for some properties to be "fixed" and others vacated before the arrival of Cyclone Hola.

In situations where families have nowhere to go, they will be accommodated for by the council at locations yet to be determined.

"We are still working on that," he said.

Poole said under the warrant used to force the evacuation of the homes, homeowners could be forced to pay costs incurred but "it is not our intention to do that". Home occupants are expected to be away from their homes for about a week.