23 August 2015
A group of over one hundred Canterbury homeowners is preparing to take EQC to the High Court over it’s standard of repair. The recent announcement of a review into the standard of non-consented foundation repairs illustrates the serious shortcomings of EQC’s approach to dealing with earthquake claims.
The EQC Group Action is questioning EQCs interpretation of the Act. The Act requires “EQC to replace or reinstate the building to a condition substantially the same as but not better or more extensive than its condition when new, modified as necessary to comply with any applicable laws”.
The Act also contemplates circumstances that do not permit exact or complete reinstatement. This might arise, for example, where building materials or methods have evolved, or where products are no longer available, or no longer comply with current building standards. In such circumstances the Act states that EQC is only bound to replace or reinstate as circumstances permit and in a reasonably sufficient manner.
EQC appears to be relying on the words “reasonably sufficient” in nearly all cases, not just in those where circumstances do not permit exact or complete reinstatement.
In addition to stopping at “reasonably sufficient” EQC appears to only want to reinstate a home to pre quake condition rather than the condition the house was when new and view upgrades required to meet current laws as betterment. This means that EQC refuse to do or fund repairs where upgrades would be required to meet current code; rewiring, parts in disrepair, weather-tightness etc. Homeowners in this situation are being cash settled, based on the “reasonably sufficient measure” and without the money needed for necessary upgrades.
Cash settling usually leaves the homeowner with a shortfall resulting in insufficient funds to repair the house to as “when new” and/or the building code. Not repairing to code means the homeowner may face potential difficulties with insurance or if selling the house in the future.
Anthony Harper agreed to take the case on at reduced rates and capped the fee at $2000 per property. Considering the real cost of High Court action, this is a nominal amount enabling ordinary homeowners to challenge EQC and seek a fair outcome to their claim.
While the case preparation is in its final stages, it is not too late for homeowners to join the Group Action if any the following apply to you:
- EQC scope of works has missed significant earthquake damage (a common issue)
- EQC says that the earthquake has only exacerbated historic damage
- You are being made to pay for something in order to get a repair (e.g. re-wiring)
- EQC refused a repair and required you to take a cash settlement due to some sort of non-compliant building material or building design issue
- EQC offered a foundation/floor repair that involves jack and pack, floor leveling compound or crack injection
- EQC offered a foundation repair without a geotech or engineering assessment on TC2 of TC3 ground
- EQC offered a structural repair without a building consent, just ‘an engineer’s sign-off’
For more information on joining the EQC Group Action, contact Anthony Harper on 379 0920 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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