Some payouts to fall short - EQC

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 05:00 29/05/2012

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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An "unfortunate" minority of land damage claimants will not get enough compensation to fix their properties, the Earthquake Commission (EQC) says.

The commission will start sending out land reports to nearly 50,000 claimants this week, summarising the damage to each property.

Cost assessment is scheduled to start from September, but land that is too expensive to repair will be paid only a portion of the cost.

Where the cost to repair land exceeds its value, claimants will be paid the lesser amount, meaning they will have to contribute themselves if they want it fixed.

EQC Canterbury events manager Reid Stiven said the situation was unfortunate.

"Basically [we] commiserate. It's unfortunate. We're constrained by the [EQC] act," Stiven said.

"That settlement criteria is set in stone. The philosophy is correct entitlement. If the correct entitlement is $30,000 and the repair is $35,000 ... sorry, that's all we can give you. You're going to have to contribute."

Repair costings were based on an industry "gold standard", Stiven said, and claimants may be able to find cheaper alternatives.

"There's always more than one way to skin a cat. There may be an alternate repair cost that is cheaper and it's up to the customer to explore that," he said.

Excessively expensive repairs may occur on properties that bordered waterways or cliff-side sections where part had fallen away, he said.

"There [may] be lateral spread associated with that and the cost to retain that area will be excessive as opposed to the value of the land."

Most land repairs, however, would be "rake and roll".

"For a lot of people it will be hire a trailer from BP, head down to the landscape supplies store, get the shingle or metal, fill the cracks in, topsoil, grass seed, done," he said.

It was not known how land claim settlements would be prioritised, Stiven said.

"We're not going to stop dealing with $50,000 building claims in order to run through a whole series of $1000 land claims. It's just not sound."

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee declined to comment on the possibilities of land shortfalls.

However, he would discuss the issue with his staff, a spokesman for Brownlee said.

Labour's earthquake recovery spokeswoman, Lianne Dalziel, said if the Government paid the market value for land claims there would be no problem.

"I don't think the Government should have to meet the cost of repair, but they should meet the market value."

The shortfall would have to be carried by homeowners, which was uneconomical.

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- The Press

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