EQC is 'state-sponsored elder abuse'

21:40, Dec 15 2013
Marty Miller
DIRE STRAITS: Marty Miller forced out of retirement to fund bills on an empty home.

A resident of a Merivale apartment block, who had to come out of retirement to fund his empty residence, calls the way the Earthquake Commission has handled the case "state-sponsored elder abuse".

Resident Marty Miller said the Garlinge Apartments were once a cost-effective place to live in upmarket Merivale.

It had a company structure that only had one bill for insurance and power that was shared by the 14 residents, many of whom were retirees.

Garlinge Apartments
MULTI-UNIT DWELLING: Garlinge Apartments in Merivale

But after the earthquakes, Miller said that convenience became a "nightmare".

As a multi-unit dwelling, the Earthquake Commission was still trying to figure out how to apportion its payout to each apartment.

In the meantime, some of its residents have had to take out loans to continue to finance its insurance, even though the apartment block sits empty.


"It's state-sponsored elder abuse," said Miller.

He had to move to Nelson and come out of retirement to finance his former home.

"I'm only just keeping my head above water."

The residents have filed a complaint against EQC and been told many times of a shifting deadline.

The apartments' chairman, Andrew Ott, said the residents could not move on until EQC settled.

"We have no idea about the information we get in terms of what is happening."

The last communication he had was that it was being "actively worked on".

"That is definitely not the stamp of it being handled with urgency."

There were some residents who were in "pretty dire straits".

"But we can't do anything to help."

There was an understanding that each apartment would receive a $100,000 payout for each earthquake event, but it was not clear how long it might take EQC to calculate a payout.

Miller said the payout needed to happen so they could sell the land and give residents some financial security.

"We are just basically standing there going into a third year," he said.

"It's horrific."

EQC national customer and claims manager Gail Kettle said there was a team working on multi-unit buildings and the commission was committed to ensuring the vulnerable were cared for.

"Circumstances are often unique and complex, requiring a range of factors to be considered when identifying vulnerability."

When vulnerability was identified, it would escalate claims or refer people to an agency for help.

The Press