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Bill to amend leaky homes assistance package

A bill that will amend New Zealand's leaky homes legislation has been sent to select committee for consideration. The bill aims to provide more clarity around eligibility for financial assistance, ideally helping more owners of leaky homes to access the assistance package.

Housing Minister Nick Smith is leading the bill, saying that while the Financial Assistance Package was an important part of the Weather-tight Homes Resolution Service, too much money was being spent on litigation instead of getting on and fixing the leaky homes.

There are still around 1147 claims for financial assistance before the Resolution Service, with an estimated cost of $115 million.

The first change to the Act is to extend the definition of the ‘built’ date to when the code of compliance certificate was issued, rather than the date of the last building inspection. This will help about 70 homeowners previously deemed ineligible, to pursue their claim without the expense of individually taking each case through the courts.

The bill also adds some flexibility to the expiration date of the Financial Assistance Package to ensure that those who are in the system but not completed by 23 July 2016 will still be eligible to access the funds.

The third change provides greater legal certainty around the eligibility criteria for access to financial assistance. The bill moves the location of two of the criteria from the Gazette into the leaky homes Act, ensuring their legal validity can no longer be called into question.

The Bill has had its first reading and been referred to select committee with a report date of July 31. Clayton Cosgrove, Labour's spokesperson for Building and Construction has said that Labour would support the bill to select committee as it appeared on the surface to address a number of issues.