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Source: New Zealand Government – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Bill to amend leaky homes assistance package

The Government is proposing changes to the Financial Assistance Package available under the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act to provide clarity of eligibility that will help more owners of leaky homes access assistance, Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.

“The first change is extending the definition of the ‘built’ date to align with last year’s Osborne v. Auckland City Council decision by the Supreme Court. The High Court and Court of Appeal had previously ruled that the ‘built’ date was the date of the last building inspection, but the Supreme Court determined it was when the code compliance certificate was issued, a date which in some cases is many months, and sometimes years later. This affects who is eligible for assistance, given the 10-year limitation on claims. The Bill will enable about 70 homeowners previously deemed ineligible to be able to pursue their claim without the expense of individually taking each case through the courts,” Dr Smith says.

“The second change relates to the expiry of the Financial Assistance Package, which is due to occur on 23 July 2016. It is possible that by this date, some claims may still not have reached the ‘notice to proceed’ stage, which is the critical point of the claim process. The Bill will mean homeowners who are actively progressing claims in the system as of 23 July 2016 will be able to continue to do so, rather than have the expiry date arbitrarily prevent a claim from proceeding where good progress is being made.

“The third change is aimed at removing any doubt about the validity of the eligibility criteria for access to the Financial Assistance Package. Two of the criteria – 1B and 1C – are presently located in the Gazette notice by regulation, which the High Court has raised concerns about. The Bill consequently moves them into the Act to provide a greater deal of legal certainty so that their validity cannot be questioned. Previous decisions made on the basis of these two criteria will be validated.

“These changes provide sensible refinements to the Act. The Bill will have its first reading today and then be referred to select committee for the public to make submissions,” Dr Smith concluded.

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