Mayor Aldo Miccio acknowledges Nelson City Council could have done a better job letting people know about fines they could face if they don't fix their houses damaged by floods.
About 120 houses in Nelson are deemed to be in such a state they cannot be occupied, and the owners have been issued with a section 124 notice.
About 20 homes in the Tasman district received a smiliar notice.
The notice says the houses must be repaired within 12 months or the owners face a fine of up to $200,000.
Mr Miccio told Summer Report that says that would be enforced only in exceptional cases - if the house was a risk to life and the owners were acting irresponsibly.
He accepted ththat this could have been communicated better to avoid worrying people.
Mr Miccio said council staff are very busy over the holiday period and were only trying to be helpful in letting people know their responsibilies.