High Court action over leaky units


Ratepayers could be forced to stump up millions of dollars to fix yet another leaky Queenstown apartment complex.

Unit owners of the 84-unit Oaks Shores Apartments, off Frankton Road, have lodged a weathertightness claim against Queenstown Lakes District Council in the High Court.

An amount hasn’t been stated but government-funded experts think a $5 million fix could be required, body corporate chairman Graeme Kruger says.

He’s heard people suggest that figure could be doubled – but that’s “just speculation”.

The body corporate is targeting QLDC because it issued the original building consent in the early 2000s.

It’s not targeting developer Ross Wensley as his companies have been declared insolvent, Kruger says.

“The chances of getting something from nothing are zero.”

Five years ago, QLDC stared down a $3.8m leaky-home lawsuit brought by unit owners of another
Frankton Rd Wensley complex, The Point.

A builder spent more than 60 weeks fixing the 24-unit complex.

Kruger says their problems aren’t as serious because Oaks is mostly built of tilt slab concrete.

Issues revolve around building techniques, not cladding, he says - for example, weathertightness membranes beneath the tiles on some of the decks have been compromised.

“We’re not saying there isn’t a problem, but it’s not as bad as what people think.

“As owners, we’ve said that if we are to get the values back and get our assets back to what they should be, we’d rather go through what appears to be on the surface a risky process of stigmatising the building as a leaky building.”

Kruger says owners have already spent more than $400,000 fixing problems with the carpark and courtyard tiling - a sum which will form part of the owners’ claim against QLDC.

In a worst-case scenario, he concedes owners may have to stump up 50 per cent of the cost of the overall fix.

Individual owners, based on apartment size, could have to fork out between $15,000 and $50,000, he estimates.

“None of us want to spend another cent there, but if we have to we will.

“It’s not nice for owners when values have dropped, and there have been the odd people who’ve sold under stressful circumstances, so it’s been a very painful journey for owners like myself.”

QLDC chief executive Stewart Burns says: “I confirm that the council has received a claim relating to the Oaks Shores Apartments.

“The amount claimed has not yet been quantified by the claimants.

“This matter is currently before the High Court and accordingly the council will not be making further comment.”

As Mountain Scene has reported before, the council has no remaining insurance cover for leaky-building claims - and no financial provision in its long-term plan to meet any claims.

As a result, any court-ordered pay-out would come from ratepayers’ pockets – every $1m paid out would average $45 per rateable property.

There’ve been at least five major local leaky claims since 2010.