21 Aug 2018

Lifeline for Christchurch property owners

7:31 pm on 21 August 2018

The government is stumping up $12 million to pay out uninsured Christchurch red zone homeowners, more than seven years after the quakes.

There were once about 500 houses in the red zoned suburb of Brooklands - now only about 20 remain

There were once about 500 houses in the red zoned suburb of Brooklands - now only about 20 remain Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

It affects 103 uninsured homeowners, whose quake-damaged properties lie in the red zone areas of Kaiapoi, Kairaki, Pines Beach, Brooklands, Avon River, Southshore and the Port Hills.

Those homeowners have been offered 100 percent of their property value dating back to 2007 - 2008.

For New Brighton resident Phyllis Thom, it was the news she had been dreaming about for years.

"It's so exciting that we can hardly talk about it. We can now perhaps get a house. This house that we're in now is a very nice house to look at, but it needs to be lifted up. It's cracked right through every room."

Mrs Thom was planning to take out home insurance, but they weren't covered when the quakes struck.

She said a lot of people were caught out by the Canterbury earthquakes.

"It was a huge, traumatic experience for all of the Christchurch citizens. We just thought 'we're part of it all, and everyone has to pull everything together.'"

However, one person who won't be accepting the government's offer is Bexley resident Rae Francis.

She said she had already put a line through it.

"We won't be accepting [the offer] if it's the [2007-2008 property valuation]. It's 2018, for goodness' sake."

Mrs Francis said she and her husband couldn't find another property in their price range, even if they tried.

"If we had been offered that in 2012, we would have taken it because it was much better. We've been looking at houses, and we couldn't get anything [based on the government's offer]."

National's EQC spokesperson Stuart Smith said today's announcement could set a concerning precedent and was unfair to people who did take out insurance.

He said there was now a risk that property owners would wait for the Crown to bail them out instead of buying disaster insurance.

Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration Megan Woods said it was up to property owners themselves to decide whether they would accept the offer.

"I'm hopeful that everybody that wants to get on with the next chapter in their life ...and has been fighting for this in some cases since 2013 - that they will now have that opportunity."

They are set to be paid over the next few weeks.

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