Housing NZ staff vacate quake-prone Tay St office

KIMBERLEY CRAYTON-BROWN
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012

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Invercargill Housing New Zealand staff have moved out of their Tay St office after an engineer assessed the building as potentially earthquake prone.

Acting general manager tenancy services Angela Pearce said the three staff members would work from home until alternative office space was found.

"Engineers have been assessing all of our potentially earthquake prone residential buildings occupied by tenants as well as offices occupied by Housing New Zealand staff," she said.

"As a result of this assessment by engineers, we were advised this building was earthquake prone so for safety reasons we relocated the three staff."

The Invercargill office was not open to the public, and existing customers and potential applicants for state rental housing could telephone the free customer services centre which was the first point of contact, Ms Pearce said.

Thirteen staff at five offices throughout the country had been relocated, and a further 88 staff at four other offices had been told their buildings were undergoing further evaluation to establish the level of health and safety risk to staff, she said.

The Tay St building is also occupied by Pita Pit.

Franchise owner Denise Andrews said the Housing NZ move would not affect her business, and it would be staying at its Tay St site.

When the store was opened two years ago a "huge refit" was carried out and the store passed all consent requirements, she said.

When Invercargill City Council had building inspectors assess the exteriors of all city buildings, 47A-B Tay St was recorded as having no visible damage to the exterior of the building.

In a letter dated December 20, 2011, and signed by building regulation services manager Simon Tonkin, it is recommended building owners have their properties assessed by a chartered professional engineer, even if the building had no damage.

The lawyer acting on behalf of the building owners, Bryan Henderson, yesterday said the landlord could not comment because it was a matter for Housing NZ.

When asked if the owners were aware Housing NZ had had an engineers report completed he said it would not be appropriate for them to comment.

A Terranet property title report lists the current owners as Nova Lynley Henderson and Sydney Russell Thornley Henderson.

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- The Southland Times

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