Insurance is axed on leaky-home claims and ratepayers are exposed

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Ratepayers face shelling out on three new leaky-homes claims because Queenstown Lakes District Council can’t get insurance cover. 

QLDC learned late last month of the new claims but doesn’t know the dollars involved, spokesperson Meaghan Miller says. 

One claim is on a Queenstown property and the others are from Wanaka, she says. 

“All that’s happened is the Department of Building and Housing has accepted claim forms and is organising reports to be prepared.” 

As revealed in Mountain Scene last month, QLDC already faces two big leaky-home lawsuits totalling nearly $4 million. 

Aside from the first $50,000 in each case, the council has insurance cover on those – but not on the three fresh claims. 

That’s because Riskpool, an insurance co-op owned by more than 70 local bodies, has had to cancel cover for councils in high-risk leaky-home areas, acting manager Paul Carpenter says. 

Yes, QLDC is one of those councils canned, Carpenter confirms. 

And no, we haven’t found other leaky-home insurance to replace Riskpool’s, Miller admits. 

Councils are often first in the firing line of leaky-home litigation because builders, subcontractors and architects may fold or melt away. 

A Government package announced this May may reduce some of QLDC’s liability when it takes effect early next year. 

All unresolved claims with the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service will then be eligible for the package, providing homeowners waive their right to sue the local body or the Crown. 

Councils and the Crown will each pay 25 per cent of agreed repairs, leaving the homeowner footing the rest. 

Home Owners and Buyers Association of New Zealand (HOBANZ), an action group formed by leaky-home crusader John Gray, says houses built between 1991-2004 are high-risk. 

Worried owners can access extensive information at www.hobanz.org.nz