Earthquake - Red Zone
Is your property in the Red Zone?
We have been providing legal advice to the Christchurch and Kaiapoi community for more than a century and have a great team ready to help you with all your legal needs following the red-zoning of parts of Christchurch and Kaiapoi including:
- Explaining the Government options
- Reviewing and advising you regarding the terms of your insurance policy
- Assistance with EQC/Insurance claims
- Working with you to complete the sale to the Crown
- Liaising with your bank
- Organising settlement of your insurance claim
- Assistance with buying a replacement property
The legal firm of Corcoran French gained hands-on knowledge of the havoc an earthquake can dispense.
It was forced to relocate its Kaiapoi office after the September 2010 quake, and the February 2011 tremor caused it to lose its central city Christchurch office.
The company was obliged to move all of its staff to the new Kaiapoi office as a temporary measure which partner Mark Henderson described as a positive step.
“It has helped us understand what our clients are going through as they work through the many legal issues arising from the earthquakes,” he says.
The law firm has acted for many local clients who have been selling red-zoned properties to CERA, is helping with the purchase of new properties, and advising on commercial and residential insurance issues.
“Many of these issues are stressful for our clients. However, we understand the issues facing them and have practical advice and effective solutions to be able to help,” he says.
The company set up a team of solicitors, headed by partner Mark Henderson, to manage a flood of inquiries arising from the hard-line approach many insurance companies have adopted to mitigate their losses.
“We have found the settlement process is not always straight forward and many people are seeking advice regarding their insurance policies,” Mark says.
“We have had a number of queries ranging from interpretation of insurance policies to advice on the settlement process, disputes with the personal and business insurers and general advice.”
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Corcoran French has prepared several frequently asked questions and answers to deal with some of the issues that might be confronting property owners in the Red Zone.
Q: I am in the Red Zone. What are my options?
A: If you are in the Residential Red Zone, and had house insurance at 22 February 2011, the Government is proposing to either:
1/ Purchase your land and buildings and take over your EQC and private insurance claims for your land and buildings; or
2/ Purchase your land and take over your EQC claim for land damage only. You will continue to deal and settle with your house insurer for all other claims.
It is important to consider which option will best suit your circumstances. If you have full replacement insurance and the home is a write off, it may best to take Option 2 and negotiate with your insurance company concerning the value of your home claim.
The Government offer will be based on the 2007 rating valuation if your home is within Christchurch’s rating Region, or the 2008 rating valuation if within the Waimakariri District. This rating valuation does not include a value for your chattels. If you choose Option 2, your insurer will need to do a full assessment of your home. You have nine months from receiving your CERA offer to accept either option. Settlement must then take place before the end of July 2013 or by 31 January 2014 if an extension has been granted to flat land owners.
We recommend discussing your options with your insurer, lawyer, bank and any other trusted and interested parties.
Q: I am uninsured – do I still get assistance from the Government?
A: At this stage, the Government has offered a payment based on land value only for 50% of the 2007 rating valuation. The time for acceptance, that offer has expired.
If you require any further assistance contact your lawyer or local support agency.
Q: What can I take from my house before settlement?
A: The settlement options are for your land and buildings only. Chattels are excluded. For information as to what chattels you can remove from your property, consult your insurer, CERA and lawyer. Generally you will be able to remove any chattels from your property prior to settlement, including blinds, curtains, drapes, rugs, unfixed carpets, soft-wired or plug-in stoves and light shades, as well as garden plants and ornaments.
You will not be able to remove permanently fixed items such as fixed carpets, light fittings, kitchens, bathrooms, floorboards, windows and doors unless otherwise agreed. Some items may be able to be bought back as part of the sale to the Crown.
Any chattels remaining in your property on settlement will become the property of the Government. It is therefore important that you understand which items are chattels and remove them all prior to settlement. Discussion with your insurer and lawyer will be imperative.
Q: I am in the Red Zone and want to be in the Green Zone, can I change zones?
A: If you are unhappy or disagree with your zoning, you can request a review from CERA (Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority). This will necessitate a review of the geotechnical information about your particular land. Should you wish to commission your own geo-yechnical engineer then it will be important to ascertain whether the cost will be worth the outcome. For further information go to www.cera.govt.nz
Q: My insurance cover for temporary accommodation has run out, what can I do?
A: If you are insured and in the Residential Red Zone and your insurance cover for temporary accommodation has run out, the Government is offering temporary accommodation assistance. More info at:http://www.quakeaccommodation.govt.nz/