19 Dec 2010

Leaky homes ruling could cost ratepayers millions

2:39 pm on 19 December 2010

Local Government New Zealand says a court ruling that councils must bear responsibility for leaky homes could cost ratepayers millions of dollars.

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal by the former North Shore City Council against two Court of Appeal decisions that it was liable for loss caused by the negligent inspection of properties.

The judgement was specific to two North Shore apartment blocks, but lawyers pursuing leaky home cases say it will apply to all councils.

Local Government NZ says the ruling widens the scope of council responsibility, but it is not yet clear by how much.

President Lawrence Yule says he's disappointed that ratepayers may have to pay millions of dollars more to settle cases because apartment builders and architects have disappeared.

Govt plan 'right' - Mayor

Wellington City Council says the Supreme Court ruling shows the importance of the Government plan.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the Supreme Court decision shows councils are right to be backing the plan.

She says there have been instances where people who won their case against a council, lost their homes because of all the litigation costs.

The Homeowners & Buyers Association says the court ruling does not compensate for the pain and suffering that home owners have been put through.

Association president John Gray says that since ratepayers will be absorbing the cost, they need to seriously question why the councils got property inspections so badly wrong in the first place.