3 Sep 2017

Homeowners launch legal action against EQC, insurers

1:43 pm on 3 September 2017

Dozens of Christchurch homeowners are taking legal action against insurers and EQC over inadequate earthquake repairs.

Housing damaged by the Christchurch earthquake

Housing damaged by the Christchurch earthquake Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Lawyer Andrew Hooker, managing director of Auckland-based Shine Lawyers, said most of the cases were over bad repairs to foundations.

Homeowners were at their wits' end, he said.

"The most tragic cases are the people who have bought houses, young couples, who have borrowed a whole lot of money to buy a house since the earthquake. They thought it was fixed and they're now finding out that the house they've got a $300,000 mortgage on is worth next to nothing because of the botched repairs."

Many people were distraught and some people were sitting on a ticking time bomb, he said

Anyone whose home has a concrete ring foundation, built between the 1920s and 1950s, should get a builder to assess foundations before it was too late, Mr Hooker said.

"A cynic might suggest that EQC and the insurance companies are just keeping their heads down, hoping that the limitation will pass and then they're off the hook."

The legal action has been filed by 50 homeowners due to a new statute of limitations, which means people must file court proceedings within a set timeframe, otherwise it can be thrown out.

Until recently, the insurance parent IAG - which owns the State, NZI, Lumley and AMI brands - said homeowners had until mid-2018 before the statute of limitations applied. But, the insurers moved the cut-off date and homeowners faced being caught out and unable to lodge claims. Insurers and EQC have previously interpreted the relevant legislation differently.

Tomorrow marks seven years since the 7.1 earthquake struck Christchurch.

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