18 May 2010

Right to sue over leaky homes seen as at stake

12:26 pm on 18 May 2010

The Labour Party says the success of the Government's plan to deal with leaky homes depends on whether homeowners are prepared to give up the right to sue councils and the Crown.

Homeowners would retain the option to sue developers and manufacturers of defective products, but forgo the right to sue the authorities.

Under the plan, central and local Government would each pay 25% of the repair costs for a leaky home.

Homeowners would pick up the remaining 50%, with access to a government-guaranteed bank loan.

While the plan allows homeowners to pursue other liable parties, Labour says often they are difficult to track down.

Lawyer's view

Lawyer Paul Grimshaw says some leaky home owners may be better off continuing to claim costs from the relevant council.

Mr Grimshaw, whose firm Grimshaw & Co acts for 6000 leaky home owners, says the Government's financial assistance package is not good enough and is advising his clients to continue through the courts.

He told Morning Report that councils are trying to cap their liablity at 25%.

However, Auckland City Mayor John Banks told Morning Report it makes sense for home owners to take the deal because it will end a financially draining problem for many.

Mr Banks said lawyers are the only people who have been benefitting from the problem being drawn out for longer.

Wait for the details - adjudicator

The Building Disputes Tribunal says leaky home owners should wait to hear more detail.

Chief adjudicator John Green told Nine to Noon that the scheme is promising, but home owners need to establish how the value of the repair costs will be determined before agreeing to the scheme.

He said initial estimates in some cases have been much lower than the final cost of repairs, meaning the home owner could be left out of pocket if the authorities will pay only the lowest estimate.