Claim of pressure as buyout deadline approaches

8:52 am on 2 April 2013

Some residents of Christchurch's red zone who are still to decide on a buyout offer from the Government say they are being pressured by their bank to accept.

Owners have until 5pm on Tuesday to take up a Government offer of either selling their land and removing their house, or selling both the dwelling and the land.

While 5930 have settled, 272 have yet to come to an agreement.

One of them, Jan Burney, says she knows of three people who have been told they have to accept because they cannot have a mortgage and be uninsured.

"The banks have said 'We want you to sell the land because you have a mortgage and the insurer is not guaranteeing they will continue their insurance.' I find that just despicable."

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says he is not aware of such situations but is not surprised because insurers are likely to shy away from damaged land.

Radio New Zealand contacted all the major banks but only Kiwibank responded, and said it a statement that it explained to its clients the impact of the options only, and did not encourage them either way.

'Confusing information'

The Human Rights Commission says poor and confusing communication is putting too much stress on Christchurch residents and is putting their basic human rights at risk.

Commissioner David Rutherford says the combination of banks, insurance companies, and central and local government providing different information is causing stress.

Mr Rutherford says residents need an independent advocacy group to help represent their needs.

Brooklands resident Stephen Bourke, who is refusing the Government offer, says some people who are under huge pressure from their banks and other parties are struggling with a lack of information.

He says the deadline should be extended for the small number of people who have still not decided, and help offered to them to work through insurance matters.

"The other people that want to stay, they need to work with them and go through the geo-tech reports and be honest about the land and the services and what's going to happen."

Tuesday's deadline does not include the Port Hills nor the CBD red zone.