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Saturday, December 22, 2012

EQC has changed it’s Apportionment information yet again, and removed an important review provision

Yesterday EQC made major changes to the wording of its web page on apportionment (here). The information now available is less than what was put up on the 4th of December.

If you are new to apportionment,  information on the current page will not give you as good a picture of what apportionment is as the earlier material.

Of great importance is removal of information from the earlier version on what to do if you didn’t agree with your apportionment assessment:

What to do if you don’t agree with how damage has been apportioned

Where EQC hasn't done a physical assessment of damage after each event, we generally work out apportionment by allocating a proportion of the total damage value to each event (rather than allocating specific damage – such as broken tiles – to an event).

If you think you've been adversely affected by EQC’s apportionment of damage and you have evidence of damage on certain dates (eg, photographs), you can provide these to EQC and ask us to reconsider your apportionment.

This is missing from the latest version with no explanation as to why this has occurred. Now that it is gone, does that mean the opportunity to have your assessment reconsidered has now been wiped? How can it exist one day and then just disappear the next? Surely there is a right to have some review process, especially considering the on-going gross incompetence displayed by EQC assessors over the last two years? 

The problems arising from EQC continually changing the content of it’s FAQ pages has been drawn to the attention of staff of the Office of the Auditor General. The grounds for this action were that it is a systemic problem of great importance to the general public, and that there may be issues of probity involved as well. We will have to wait to see what, if anything, happens. Sadly the long periods of time taken by public “watch dog “ organisations like the Audit Office and the Office of the Ombudsman to ponder the issues mean great harm is done while they deliberate.

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Southern Response - Build Programme update

Southern Response have published a web page explaining how they intend going about “co-ordinating our repair and rebuild programme including a broad timeframe for when your home will be repaired or rebuilt.”

The page is here and covers:

  • the pre-design queue (which is explained)
  • the build queue (which is explained)
  • even spread of builds (over the different technical categories of land)
  • catering for the vulnerable (finished by the middle of 2014)
  • the expected number of repairs and rebuilds for each year until 2016
  • the possibility of an on-line system so you can keep track of what is happening with your home.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

TC3 land geotechnical investigations are completed

EQC have announced that drilling of TC3 land has now been completed. The media release (here) reads:

EQC’s geotechnical investigations into green zone Technical Category 3 (TC3) land have been completed – meaning approximately 10,500 Christchurch homes with foundation damage are a major step closer to being able to be repaired or replaced.

The geotechnical programme began in March 2012 in the city’s eastern suburbs. It was expected to be completed by March next year – but has been completed early.

The geotechnical investigations were required in order to get adequate information for foundation design. They aimed to identify or confirm soil characteristics for homes with foundation damage that are under the $100,000 (+ GST) EQC cap.

  • The drilling was done in 50-metre grids and involved drilling bore holes to take soil samples, as well as cone penetrometer testing (CPT).
  • Investigations were undertaken on 3,500 private properties, as well as roadside berms and reserves.
  • Testing was not needed on every TC3 property – just those with foundation damage.

Drilling results have been progressively loaded onto the Canterbury Geotechnical Database, which engineers are using to help them design foundations in accordance with the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Enterprise’s requirements. The database can also be used by private insurers and others undertaking foundation design and repairs.

Timeframe

  • The worst damaged homes are expected to be repaired by the end of 2013.
  • All other homes will be repaired by the end of 2015.

IAG – all repairs and rebuilds to commence in the next two years

IAG have issued a media release announcing, in general terms, the timetable for their repairs and rebuilds.

IAG is providing further certainty for earthquake affected customers, confirming when in the next two years all residential property reinstatements will begin – with the last scheduled to start no later than the last quarter of 2014.

IAG’s residential rebuild and repair programme involves 1700 rebuilds and 3000 major (overcap) repairs, which the company aims to complete by December 2015.

For more information on IAG’s repair and rebuild timetable, the media release can be found here.

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Coming from CERA soon - a web page devoted to community issues and questions.

CERA now have a web page to cover community issues and questions. Still in the early stages of development it will be based upon questions “developed by community groups for agencies working on the earthquake recovery to answer. Questions and answers are updated here online and a hard copy version will be available in January 2013.”

The page, which has two sets of questions but no answers as yet, is here.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Are insurance contracts unfair? What the Australians are doing.

The link here leads to an Australian legal website Lexology.com which in February this year published an article Are insurance contracts unfair? The article discusses whether or not insurance contracts are unfair, and if they should come under Australia’s Unfair Contracts legislation.

Since it was written there have been developments with insurance contracts now to be covered by a similar approach, but using existing insurance legislation (albeit in a dilute form from what was initially proposed). However it is a good backgrounder on what is happening in Australia. The Insurance Council of Australia’s perspective is here.

The Australian developments are important for us, as there is an on-going alignment of legislation between Australia and New Zealand (i.e. we end up doing what Australia has decided upon). In the context of unfair contracts, New Zealand law firm Buddle Findlay recently published an article Aligning trans-Tasman consumer law: New Zealand developments (here), and discusses the prohibition of unfair contract terms.

The effect of such legislation?

The prohibition will mean that a court may declare a term of a standard form consumer contract to be "unfair" if the term:

  • Would cause a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations under the contract
  • Is not reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the advantaged party and
  • Would cause detriment (whether financial or otherwise) to a party if it were applied, enforced, or relied on.

What sort of specific situations might the legislation apply to? The writers provide the following on the Australian situation (general contracts, not insurance contracts):

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Official website for TC3’ers

CERA and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have established a website for those who live on TC3 land.  The website, Canterbury Residential Rebuild, is here.

The site describes itself as:

This website summarises relevant terms and information. It links to the organisations responsible for, and involved in, helping to rebuild your home. 

The site will be updated with a wider range of residential rebuild content over the coming months.

It has information on:

  • Drilling programme
  • Foundation guidelines
  • Geotechnical reports
  • Land assessments
  • The process
  • What do I do?
  • Who does what?

And links for people who are:

  • Home owners
  • Tenants
  • Builders, developers, engineers and building consent authorities
  • Insurers
  • Lawyers
  • Realtors

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Update on Church plans from the Catholic Bishop of Christchurch

The Catholic Diocese of Christchurch has released a diocese property earthquake update here.

The update includes the following:

Bishop Barry has provided information to parishes regarding the Diocesan Earthquake Strategy

In his letter he states that "Since the earthquakes, the diocese is working on two levels. A Strategy Committee is looking at the overall church and school needs for the diocese over the next 30 to 50 years, while on a more immediate level diocesan staff and professional advisors are looking at all parish properties that may be repaired and/or strengthened.

As you will be aware, the extent of repair differs greatly from no damage to demolition."

The webpage includes links to three downloadable updates:

  • EQ Action Plan December 2012
  • Church Strengthening Programme Dec 2012
  • Diocese Repair and Rebuild Process Dec 2012

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Red Zone deadline extended

Minister Brownlee today announced that the 30 April 2013 deadline for leaving the older Red Zones has been extended by three months. A great thing to have happened, and much appreciated.

The next task, for very early in the new year, will be to bring scrutiny to bear on the sticking points – in many cases insurance issues.

The Minister’s announcement is here.

The full text of the statement reads: