Leaky homes 



How do I know whether I have a leaky home?

The Weathertight Homes Resolution Services (WHRS) Act defines a leaky home as “a dwellinghouse into which water has penetrated as a result of any aspect of the design, construction or alteration of the dwellinghouse, or materials used in its construction or alteration and where the penetration of water has caused damage”.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Building Performance website has a checklist of leaky home symptoms. If you're concerned that your house has been affected by water damage because of the way it was built or renovated or the materials it was built from, you can use the checklist to determine whether you have a leaky home.

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I have a leaky home. Who can help me?

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) can help people who own homes which have problems and damage caused by leaks. You can contact MBIE for an assessment of your home, to discuss your options, and to make a claim through the WeathertightHomes Tribunal for dispute resolution (read on for more about this). 

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How do I make a claim for dispute resolution?

Because there is a 10 year limit for bringing a claim under the Weathertight Resolution Services Act, you would need to make your claim as soon as you can.

When the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) receives your claim, you'll be assigned a Claims Advisor, who can advise you of the progress of your claim.

MBIE will arrange for an eligibility assessment on your claim. This will involve invasive testing of your home and searching for other information held about your home. More about assessments is on the Building Performance website.

If you are claiming for up to $20,000 in repair costs, you can apply to MBIE for dispute resolution either through negotiation or mediation:

Negotiation is an informal discussion between you and the other party (or parties). MBIE will help arrange it, but you will run the discussion. You can choose to have a representative act in your place and/or bring a support person – but you should let the other parties know if you are planning to do this.

If you come to an agreement, it’s a good idea to put the agreement in writing. If you don’t come to an agreement, you can try mediation or adjudication.

Mediation is also an informal process, where you and the other party (or parties) get together and, with the assistance of a mediator, try to work through the problems to find a solution.

If you come to an agreement, the agreement is put into writing and signed by you and the other party or parties. The agreement is binding, and can be enforced in the District Court.

If you fail to reach an agreement you can apply to the Ministry of Justice's Weathertight Homes Tribunal for adjudication.

 

Adjudication is an option if negotiation or mediation has failed, or if your claim is for more than $20,000. Adjudication is more like a court hearing, and parties are allowed to question each other’s evidence, claims and credibility. An adjudicator then makes a binding decision. You may be referred to mediation as part of the adjudication process.

You can apply for adjudication by filling out an application form on the Weathertight Homes Tribunal website. You can call the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment MBIE) on 0800 116 926 (until 1 Nov 2016 – after this date you can call 0800 324 477) for help with preparing your claim. The application fee is around $400.

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Can I continue my claim if I sell my house?

No you can’t. You can only make the claim for a house you own. If you sell your house, your claim cannot be transferred, but the new owners may be eligible to make their own claim.

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If I have already had an assessment done, do I need to have another one done when I put my claim in?

If you have already had an assessment done prior to putting in your claim, you can send a copy of the report in with your claim application. This report will be used to assess the eligibility of your claim.

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What can I do if I disagree with the Eligibility Assessment report?

When the assessment has been completed you will be given a copy of the report. If the report states that you are not eligible, you have 20 working days to make a submission to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment MBIE. You will probably need to have had a separate assessment done, which supports your case against the MBIE decision.

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Do I need a lawyer if I'm making a claim with the Weathertight Homes Tribunal?

You don't have to get a lawyer to represent you, but it is probably a good idea. Your claims advisor can help you with preparations for the hearing. If you'd like to have a lawyer present but can't afford one, you may be eligible for legal aid

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Is applying to the Weathertight Homes Tribunal my only option if I have a leaky home?

Apart from negotiation and mediation through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, applying to the Weathertight Homes Tribunal is not your only option for settling a leaky home dispute.

You could take your claim to the Disputes Tribunal or the High Court, or you may be able to negotiate a settlement informally (without MBIE’s help). These may be your only options if your home is not eligible for a claim under the Weathertight Resolution Services Act.

It is likely to be cheaper and quicker to go through the Weathertight Homes Tribunal than to go to court.