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.raineycollins.co.nz. If you have a legal inquiry you would like discussed in this column please email Alan on firstname.lastname@example.org