Wellington Scoop

Strengthen or demolish: petition seeks help for apartment owners


by Geraldine Murphy
Following last month’s public meeting of residential owners in earthquake-prone buildings, Inner City Wellington has launched an online petition on Parliament’s website calling for the Government to provide comprehensive financial, technical and advisory support interventions for residential owners.

At the public meeting, owners were presented with the results of a survey of 13 earthquake-prone buildings. The results reinforced what many owners already know – the costs of compliance are substantially higher than MBIE’s costs in its policy work, and the pressure on the owners of private apartments is significant. Yet this compliance burden on residential home owners is to achieve public safety outcomes.

There is no support to help residential body corporates or other multi-owner structures progress through large, complex engineering and construction projects.

MBIE are working to implement the Financial Assistance Package announced in the Budget, which is targeted to a small group of owners.

We know that tax relief for seismic strengthening costs is in IRD’s work programme, with the outcome expected later this year. But more is needed.

We encourage you to sign the petition. Included in the package of interventions being called for is an authoritative assessment body to remove the variability of seismic ratings, a technical and advisory service to help owners progress, retrospective compensation for use of private funds and loss of value, loans and an insurance guarantee for strengthened buildings.

The need for this support is hitting Wellington owners now.

But it will also impact residential home owners around New Zealand who own and live in buildings that fall within the criteria set out in the Building Act 2004.

If you own an apartment in a building that is two or more levels high and three or more households, it could be identified as potentially earthquake prone. If this happens, you and the other owners in your building will need to obtain engineering assessments to confirm whether your building is or isn’t earthquake prone. If your building is earthquake-prone, you will be given a deadline by which time your building has to be strengthened or demolished, based on the seismic risk zone you live in.

Launching this petition is one of the actions from the June meeting. The petition closes on 31 August.

A second petition, calling for a review of the earthquake prone provisions in the Building Act to take account of the significantly higher costs, stretched sector capacity and to focus resources on public safety priorities, will be launched shortly.

Both petitions are part of lobbying that ICW, as part of a collaborative lobby group, is continuing to undertake.

Geraldine Murphy is Seismic Spokesperson for Inner City Wellington

Read also
Affording the unaffordable


  1. Jane C, 8. July 2019, 16:37

    Yes the WCC used the “emergency” declaration in order to do this.
    What is needed is a group law suit – all affected building owners together against the Council.

  2. steve doole, 9. July 2019, 8:33

    It’s not fair on the rest of us taxpayers or ratepayers to bailout property owners. Buying anything has risk that standards will change. All owners take on risks, upside risk and potential downside. For some their choice didn’t work out positive. Why should property owners be protected from failings of their purchase? Yes, some owners may walk away from a property they purchased, losing everything. For others, selling below purchase price may be best choice.

    Buy a car, and it might be a ‘lemon’ straight off, or after a few years fail pollution tests, and if unfixable become worthless. Property owners don’t pay tax on their gains, so why should taxpayers fund any part of their potential capital losses?

  3. Andrew S, 9. July 2019, 8:44

    Building owners should neither demolish or strengthen when the two options from local govt are based on an erroneous new code.

  4. Mary M, 9. July 2019, 9:59

    Steve the lemon analogy does not apply here as nothing is wrong with the buildings, neither building owners nor ratepayers should fund the costs of the mistaken new code. Definitely the effected owners need to put a stop to this yellow sticker industry.

  5. Guy M, 9. July 2019, 13:06

    Steve Doole, you’re a hard man. “Yes, some owners may walk away from a property they purchased, losing everything.” That’s a pretty harsh view of the world, one of which you may possibly not be so keen on if you were in that position yourself.

    The thing is, it is not just one or two people we are talking about. It is potentially thousands of people, who have bought an apartment and who are now potentially facing ruin because of a change in government regulation. And that is not a fair reason to lose everything, because of a political regulation.

    Let’s do a comparison with the Gun legislation, shall we? People who legally purchased a semi-automatic gun are now finding that their purchased weapon is now illegal. The Government has put aside money for buying back those guns. I don’t particularly like guns, or gun people, but the Govt has recognised that to punish them without compensation is unfair. So, tax-payers’ money is being used to buy the guns and destroy them. Not the best use of my tax dollars, but I’m happy, knowing that we can all be safer in our homes.

    Similarly with the Apartment legislation – if the Govt wants us to comply with the law, they may need to assist in the financing of that. That’s not necessarily saying that the Govt pay for all of it – but that law changes may be required. For instance, if a mortgage could be gained for the building, the cost of the works could be spread across 30 years. Currently, Body Corps are forbidden to take out a mortgage under the Unit Titles Act, so that is not an option.

  6. Mary M, 9. July 2019, 19:20

    Steve: the lemon analogy does not apply here as nothing is wrong with the buildings. But agree that neither building owners, taxpayers nor ratepayers should fund the costs of the mistaken new code.