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Government offers to buy 5,100 Christchurch homes

Thursday 23rd June 2011

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Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced the Government will offer to buy 5,100 Christchurch homes at 2007 rateable values.

Brownlee told a press briefing that rateable value would be fair as the last ratings were conducted in 2007 and that prices had fallen since then.

He said anyone whose property had had an extension or other improvements would have this taken into account.

The offer to buy relates only to residential home owners with insurance in the red zone.

"We will be considering uninsured homeowners and commercial property owners in the residential red zone over the coming weeks."

The cost of the package is $1.5 billion and the Government is to pay the money upfront, then take responsibility for getting it back from insurers and the EQC.

Prime Minister John Key said residents would have nine months to consider the purchase offer.

"In the meantime, if residents wish to leave their badly damaged homes in the red zone they should talk to their insurers about accessing any unused portion of their temporary accommodation allowances immediately."

Key said he realised it has been stressful time for residents and that each subsequent earthquake since September 4 has made an already large and complex challenge more difficult.

"This has been a major event and the Government is committed to getting things right for the people of Canterbury. We're moving as quickly as we can to give certainty to those affected," he said.

Brownlee said the release of a map today by the Government of zones of land damaged in greater Christchurch is the most up-to-date information that can be provided.

The greater Christchurch land has been divided into four zones – red, orange, green and white.

The red zones are areas not likely to be suitable for continued residential habitation.

"It is not feasible to rebuild on this land at the present time," Brownlee said.

"Repair in all red areas would not only require raising the height of the land but also a complete replacement of essential infrastructure like sewer, water, electricity and roading.

"Full land repair in these areas may mean that every house would need to be removed, regardless of its degree of present damage."

He said for property owners on the red zone there were two options; the Crown makes an offer of purchase for the entire property at current rating value (less any insurance payments already made), and assumes all the insurance claims other than contents, or the Crown makes an offer to purchase the land only, and homeowners continue to deal with their insurers about their homes.

In the green zone the majority of Christchurch properties - around 100,000 - have been given the green light to proceed with repair work.

The orange zone areas require additional investigation by engineers and the findings would be revealed progressively over the coming weeks and months, Brownlee said.

The white zone, including the Port Hills and CBD, are still being mapped or are not residential land.

Christchurch residents can visit the www.landcheck.org.nz website to check what zone their property is in and download a fact sheet on what that means for them.



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