Fight­ing to fix a leaky home


Leaky homes are still be­ing dis­cov­ered and most likely still be­ing built. If you dis­cover that you have an is­sue with leaks you need to get a qual­i­fied builder to ad­vise on the leaks right away be­fore the sit­u­a­tion gets worse. You also need to act quickly be­cause there are time lim­its for bring­ing claims.

The time limit that ap­plies will be the shorter of six years from when the prob­lem was rea­son­ably dis­cov­er­able or 10 years from when the work or omis­sion took place.

If you are get­ting close to the time limit then put in a claim to the Weather­tight Homes Tri­bunal urgently.

Lodg­ing a claim stops the time limit run­ning for the tri­bunal. If you want to bring a court claim, a sep­a­rate claim must be filed in the ap­pro­pri­ate court to stop the time limit run­ning against the par­ties you name in the claim.

To file a claim in the tri­bunal you need to com­plete a form and pay the fil­ing fee.

Once your claim is filed and served on all the other par­ties such as the builder, ar­chi­tect, roofer, win­dow sup­plier, pre­vi­ous own­ers, build­ing cer­ti­fier/lo­cal coun­cil etc, there will be a con­fer­ence call with the tri­bunal to dis­cuss the next steps.

These steps in­clude dis­cov­ery of rel­e­vant pa­per­work, other par­ties be­ing joined, and a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing to as­cer­tain which of the con­trac­tors did what work. Once the pre­lim­i­nary steps are fin­ished claims usu­ally go to me­di­a­tion, to see if agree­ment can be reached on a res­o­lu­tion.

If there is no res­o­lu­tion the claim pro­ceeds to a hear­ing, which may also in­volve a con­fer­ence of ex­perts to see if there is agree­ment on the cause of the prob­lems and the costs of putting it right. Af­ter the hear­ing any party can ap­peal to the High Court. Claimants may also be en­ti­tled to ac­cept the gov­ern­ment Fi­nan­cial As­sis­tance Pack­age where the gov­ern­ment con­trib­utes 25 per cent of the re­pair costs and the lo­cal coun­cil - if they were the build­ing per­mit cer­ti­fiers - con­trib­utes 25 per cent.

The claimant can seek the re­main­ing 50 per cent from the other par­ties in­volved. As an al­ter­na­tive to the tri­bunal a claimant can take the case to the courts. If the dam­ages are un­der $350,000 the case can go to the District Court. Over that limit the case is to the High Court. Sim­i­lar steps will be taken to progress the mat­ter to a hear­ing. Along the way you will need ex­pert ev­i­dence to sup­port the claim.

This will re­late to who caused

‘‘If you are get­ting close to the time limit then put in a claim to the Weather­tight Homes Tri­bunal urgently. Lodg­ing a claim stops the time limit run­ning.’’

the prob­lem and how much it will cost to fix. Af­ter the hear­ing any party can ap­peal the de­ci­sion. The tri­bunal only has ju­ris­dic­tion to deal with weather­tight is­sues so if the de­fects in your prop­erty also in­clude other types of prob­lem, for ex­am­ple struc­tural de­fects or fail­ure to com­ply with spec­i­fi­ca­tions, then you need to bring the claim in court rather than the tri­bunal. Both the tri­bunal and court pro­cesses can take a long time (the tri­bunal can be quicker than the courts) so you need to be pre­pared for the long haul and a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in ex­pert help, both le­gal ad­vice and from build­ing pro­fes­sion­als.

Col­umn courtesy of RAINEY COLLINS LAWYERS­phone 0800 733 484 www.rain­ey­ If you have a le­gal in­quiry you would like dis­cussed in this col­umn please email Alan on aknowsley@rain­ey­

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