Local leaky-home lawsuit for $3.8m


Queenstown Lakes District Council is in the firing line of a $3.8 million leaky-home lawsuit. 

Owners of The Point apartments are suing 15 parties in the Wakatipu’s biggest weathertightness claim. 

First defendant is apartment promoter Wensley Develop-ments, which opened the 24-unit Frankton Road complex in 1999 but went into liquidation in July last year. 

QLDC is second defendant, followed by other parties including two Wensley direct-ors, an architect, draughtsperson, project manager, site supervisor – and glass, roofing, paint, sealant and exterior coating suppliers. 

If the High Court claim succeeds, a lawyer spoken to by Mountain Scene says, the judge may order defendants to cough up individual sums – under that scenario, apartment owners would miss out on whatever amount the failed Wensley firm should have paid. 

Alternatively, the judge could make QLDC and other surviving parties “jointly and severally” responsible for Wensley’s share as well. 

The case is presently stalled, awaiting a judge to decide on either a trial or mediation. QLDC spokeswoman Meaghan Miller says apart from the first $50,000, QLDC is covered by insurance. 

The Point claim has almost doubled since the leaky five-star complex first hit Mountain Scene headlines in February 2008. Repairs were then estimated at $2m-plus. 

Builder Russell Lund, whose company was on the repair job for 15 months, spoke of it being at the “extreme end of the scale” for leaky homes. 

This isn’t the only big leaky-home claim against QLDC. 

At a closed-door committee meeting in May, councillors were told of two others – for $127,363 and $352,590. 

The $352,590 claim has since been settled at mediation and a decision is pending on the other, Miller says.
QLDC won’t reveal the properties or parties involved. 

A February 2009 Building and Housing Department report found council regulators failed to properly inspect for weathertightness between 1998 and 2008. 

About 11,000 new-building and alteration consents were issued in that time. 

QLDC is insured with Riskpool, a cooperative formed by local bodies throughout New Zealand. 

With leaky homes taking their toll, councils are being called on to stump up more capital for Riskpool. 

QLDC’s latest Riskpool cash call was $112,603 just last month, Miller says.