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

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

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.

Tauranga City Council are today to 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.

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

"Anything less would be an insult."

Colin and Jan-Marie Mills says it's 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," says Colin.

If the council had been a business, Colin says, 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 says.

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.

Jan-Marie says 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

-RNZ

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12 Comments
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The equation is simple!

Posted on 09-06-2018 15:46 | By Crash test dummies

Five homeowners pay some $100k or so to build the required retaining wall then thats five more houses with Code fo Compliance, total then 18 of the 21. The path TCc have decided upon is instead going to needlessly destroy 21 homes and cost ratepayers likely $20m and possibley a lot more when the truth of it all gets out in litigation and law suits. All those involved at TCC will simply walk away, they are the criminals not the builder, trades or homeowners in the huge mess self created by TCC. It is an extremely sorry story for homeowners and TCC ratepayers... the innocent parties in this horrible saga.

Debacle

Posted on 06-06-2018 20:30 | By Kancho

Sad for the owners but seems a fair resolution albiet multi millions of ratepayers money. My estimate with expert report costs, accommodation of families and ensuing out of pocket costs, legal costs, buy back and finally site demolitions, site remedials etc probably 20 million plus. Whether will ever get to know the final bill ?

Retaining walls fix

Posted on 06-06-2018 17:41 | By myview

Why not stabilize the area with retaining walls etc. complete the landscaping and let the homeowners move in. As for the so called defects there are thousands of houses built before the current building codes were in place still standing despite them lacking many of the present requirements.

Not Covered ... ?

Posted on 06-06-2018 17:32 | By Maryfaith

From the umpteen legal documents and contracts I have read regarding this debacle (and a lot more that have never come to public attention!) TCC is not covered by Public Liability Insurance if it is a case where TCC has made poor/incorrect decisions!

@ hapukafin

Posted on 06-06-2018 16:37 | By Crash test dummies

Funny thing that conclusion, Council staff and Councillors are all immune personally for all liability as long as recemmendations are from Consultants etc, that means they all walk away scott free. So leaving Ratepayers with the bills and some. The homeowners have every right to be paid out fully, they have no fault ehre, ditto builder, trades and so on. The neglect here is all at the feet of TCC, staff, inspectors and management for the years of failure to remedy properly what they have known all along is a disaster happening ....

@ waiknot

Posted on 06-06-2018 16:34 | By Crash test dummies

Yes it does have insurance, however that will not necessarily be a good thing as the preiums will rocket for years to come. Ratepayers will be whacked which ever way one goes.

@ Chris

Posted on 06-06-2018 16:33 | By Crash test dummies

I think you have the wrong end of the stick. There is no case against the builder, developer and so on. The houses (13 of 21) have had a code of complinace, they are therefore approved, built correctly and as per consent plans. That means only Council is to blame. I do agree that it is extremely unfair that ratepayers could end up with a huge bill here and the person(s) involved will all just walk away, that is the issue here that thise involved must be held to account for the failures resulting is what now has happened. Perhaps the only way here is for TCC to be dragged into Court and judged according to the facts of it rather than they themselves being judge/jury and executioneer.

those who failed pays

Posted on 06-06-2018 15:16 | By hapukafin

Feel very sorry for those home owners involved.They should get everything they asked for.So much for the inspectors the council has employed.One would have thought a lesson was learnt with the leaking homes.Compensation should not come out of rate payers money..Council find your own way of paying this out.

Liability?

Posted on 06-06-2018 14:20 | By waiknot

I’m assuming council has insurance for this sort of thing. If council were negligent (if I have no knowledge either way) they need to meet its obligations quickly.

No

Posted on 06-06-2018 14:08 | By Chris

While these families certainly deserve some remedy from the Council, a buyback of their properties is completely unrealistic, and an unfair demand upon ratepayers. The fact is that engaging in building activity like this is inherently risky, and while SOME compensation may be in order, their major claim is not against Council but against the developer who ripped them off.

Resutl bad either way

Posted on 06-06-2018 14:02 | By Crash test dummies

Council firstly as they have failed completely in their duties, legal obligations and so on. To now create such a huge mess for homeowners as a result of that failure, now homeowners are possible going to be left out to dry as a result of all the consequences. End result, the homeowners and developers, builder and the trades involved are all in the clear as TCC haev issued code of compliance and done a lot of inspections. Result being the TCC ratepayers are about to be hit hard with the bill for this folly and those involved will walk away scott free. The "RATZ" have already started to leave.

Criminal

Posted on 06-06-2018 13:47 | By maildrop

Just awful for them. What surprises me (or not) is that the Police and SFO have not done anything regarding the builder or dodgy deal with the inspector. They should be locked up. Instead they are hiding away, keeping their heads down waiting for ratepayers to foot the bill. Useless.