Christchurch: Notices to fix issued on dangerous homes

Press Release – Christchurch City Council

Notices to fix are being issued by the Christchurch City Council on 27 homes in the Port Hills that are in danger from geotechnical risks like rockfall, cliff collapse and landslide.15 December 2011

Notices to fix issued on dangerous homes

Notices to fix are being issued by the Christchurch City Council on 27 homes in the Port Hills that are in danger from geotechnical risks like rockfall, cliff collapse and landslide.

The Council has issued to around 500 homes notices prohibiting entry under section 124 of the Building Act since 22 February 2011 for geotechnical reasons because of the significant risk created by recent earthquakes. The Council has issued these notices because it considers it dangerous to live in these homes and public safety has been the top priority.

Despite the danger, the Council is aware of a small number of residents who have chosen to remain in their homes.

Council General Manager Regulation and Democracy Services Peter Mitchell says the Council is obliged to enforce the section 124 notices already issued, and will today issue a “Notice to Fix” on properties where it is known residents are still living.

“We can not sit back and ignore the fact that people are living in homes that we have deemed are at risk of rockfall or other geotechnical issues. Our city is still at risk of another earthquake and the outcome could be tragic for these residents or people visiting their homes.

“We are aware of 27 properties where people continue to reside, despite the issue of notices prohibiting entry. Today we will issue secondary notices to these properties.

“While we understand that it is difficult for people who can not be in their homes, we must make safety the number one priority. The notices have been issued for good reason and it is very important that people follow them,” Mr Mitchell says.

The Notice to Fix is essentially a reiteration of the first section 124 notice. The Notice to Fix will require compliance within 20 working days from the date of service – for notices issued today, that means compliance is required by 18 January 2012. Should any residents remain in these homes after that date, the Council will consider applying to the District Court for an injunction. The issue would then sit with the Court for any further action.

100 per cent rates relief for at-risk hill homes
Properties that have been issued section 124 notices prohibiting entry will not have to pay rates while residents are out of their homes.

Christchurch City Council today (Thursday 15 December) agreed to amend its Rates Remission Policy to give owners of properties at risk of rockfall, cliff collapse, unsafe access or who have been instructed by the Council to leave their properties under section 124 (1) (b) of the Building Act 100 per cent rates remission.

The earthquake-related rates remission policy adopted by the Council for 2011/12 provides 40 per cent rates remission for residential properties that are unable to be occupied. The Council considered that because residents are not entitled to occupy properties where section 124 notices have been issued and that Council is obliged to enforce these notices, that full remission on rates was appropriate.

There are currently 525 properties affected, however this number could increase as risk assessments continue in the hills. You can read the report to Council about this matter on today’s online agenda here.

Support and assistance
Residents are advised to contact their insurance company to discuss how their policies can be used to provide assistance during the time that notices are in effect.

For information on Government assistance that may be available to homeowners, visit the Support and Assistance section of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) website www.cera.govt.nz/support-and-assistance or phone 0800 RING CERA (0800 7464 2372).

For more information visit www.ccc.govt.nz/porthillsgeotech.

ENDS

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