6 Jun 2018

Bella Vista homeowners: 'We did not ask for this'

3:15 pm on 6 June 2018

Victims of a botched housing development in Tauranga have told the city's council they want to be paid the full market value of their homes before defects were found.

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One of the Bella Vista houses still under construction, pictured in March 2018 Photo: RNZ / Sophia Duckor-Jones

Tauranga City Council are today decide what is next for the owners of 21 properties in the Bella Vista development, now deemed too dangerous to live in.

The council signed-off the development despite major construction defects.

Residents were evacuated earlier this year and one family has been allowed to return.

Residents met councillors this morning urging them to be compassionate and back the purchase of homes at the market value they would have had before defects were found.

Many were emotional as they described the excitement of building their first home and starting families, before those dreams were thwarted as their homes were condemned.

Some described suffering through stress-related health issues, overcrowding into family members' homes, employment difficulties and relationship break-downs as a result of being forced to leave their homes.

One resident, Jenny Coffey, told the council the families felt robbed of their homes and their well-being.

"We've been handed this issue through no fault of our own.

"We did not ask for this. All we did is buy a house and put our trust in the process.

Ms Coffey wants the council to buy the houses so the families can move on with their lives.

"Anything less would be an insult," she said.

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Photo: RNZ / Sophia Duckor-Jones

Colin and Jan-Marie Mills said it was only fair the council should take responsibility for the sloppy work.

"You should immediately refund every home-owner their building consent fees - we should not have to pay for those fees, Mr Mills said.

If the council had been a business, Mr Mills said, he wouldn't have paid the fees because it didn't deliver the service.

There had been massive failures on the council's part, he said.

This afternoon, council will deliberate on four options including buying the properties, fixing them or issuing appropriate notices.

Part of this morning's submissions were in public, but much of the decision-making will be conducted in private.

Results of an independent investigation, overseen by Paul Heath QC, into the councils responsibilities and possible failings while handling the build, will also be considered.

The council will notify homeowners of its decision later today, before announcing it to the public.

Meanwhile, two families have filed legal proceedings against the council.

Ms Coffey said other families would consider joining the class action, depending on what the council decides today.

The company in charge of the development went into receivership late last year, leaving many homes unfinished.

Tauranga City Council will deliberate on four options:

  • Council works with each owner to discuss how their property can be remediated; and if necessary assist them financially to achieve code compliance with a charge on the property that is realised upon resale.
  • Council completes its expert assessments, issues appropriate notices and provides no further assistance.
  • Council purchases the properties, demolishes them and on-sells to a developer as bare land.
  • Council works with each owner to discuss how the property can be remediated, and remediate at council's cost.

Source: Tauranga City Council

Defunct Tauranga housing development Bella Vista Housing Development.

Photo: RNZ / Eva Corlett