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Report to Minister this month on progress with WHRS review

25 November 2005: The Department of Building and Housing intends presenting a progress report to Building Issues Minister Clayton Cosgrove by the end of this month on a review of the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service (WHRS).

The review was initiated when the WHRS moved to the Department from the Department of Internal Affairs last July. The purpose of the review was set out in a statement on 1 August by the then Minister for Building Issues, Chris Carter.

The review focuses on identifying opportunities for enhancing the WHRS.

WHRS National Manager Nigel Bickle says that although a review inevitably looks at past performance, the primary aim has been to identify potential gains in terms of the WHRS’s efficiency and effectiveness in dealing with weathertightness issues.

'We have been looking at how to get the best results, in terms of speedier, more streamlined processes for homeowners,' he says.

Nearly 3,800 claims have been made so far, but about 20 percent are not being proceeded with for various reasons, such as ineligibility or the claimant asking that they be discontinued.

The review includes looking at how the WHRS can collect information on whether houses with weathertightness issues are being repaired, and whether the repairs are being done properly.

Having been set up as a resolution service, the WHRS has no information on the number of houses repaired to date, because what happens post-resolution is up to the parties involved in the claim. Similarly, it has no information regarding repairs undertaken to houses that were not the subject of claims made to it.

The review has included consultation with the Leaky Homes Action Group and territorial authorities including the Auckland City Council, reflecting the high incidence of weathertightness problems in the Auckland region.

Claims figures as at 17 November:

  • Total claims received: 3,765
  • Claims not proceeding (ineligible, discontinued at claimant’s request etc: 787
  • Claims resolved: 467
  • Free assessments completed: 2,895
  • Total active claims (not closed or resolved): 2,511
  • Claims currently under assessment: 548
  • Claims awaiting claimant decision on resolution option: 1,273
  • Claims currently undertaking WHRS resolution process: 497

The WHRS does not know, until or unless claimants advise it, how many claims remain live post-assessment, in terms of WHRS involvement. Some claimants will have decided not to proceed with the claim via the WHRS, some will still be thinking about whether to proceed, some will be taking action through the courts, where they can sue for greater amounts than would be available via the WHRS adjudication process, and some will be dealing directly with their builder or other parties for redress.

The majority of claims are from:

  • Auckland City Council (1,274)
  • Christchurch City Council (124)
  • Manukau City Council (65)
  • North Shore City Council (331)
  • Rodney District Council (98)
  • Tauranga City Council (58)
  • Waitakere City Council (104)
  • Wellington City Council (204)

Nearly 75 percent of claims are from the Auckland area.