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Leaky home owners may benefit from a Supreme Court decision released on 10 June.

Home owners John and Helen Osborne have won an appeal that clarifies the time period in which the couple were eligible for compensation for a leaky home claim. The issue was whether a 10-year limitation period on claims should start from when a building was finished, or from when it was officially signed off with a council code of compliance certificate.

Construction on the Osbornes' newly built property had been substantially completed by August 15, 1996, but code compliance certificates were not issued until February 19 and April 18, 1997 or six months later.

An assessor's report application, lodged with the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act on February 14, 2007, found the house became habitable around August 15, 1996, outside the 10-year limitation period on claims specified under the weathertight homes law. However the claim was just inside a 10-year limitation period allowed by the Building Act for starting proceedings against the Auckland Council in relation to code of compliance certificates.

In its decision today, the Supreme Court decided the Osbornes' claim was eligible under the weathertight homes law. The Court said that there was no good reason why a claim within the 10-year limitation period under the Building Act, should not also be eligible under the leaky homes legislation.

Tim Rainey, the Osbornes' lawyer, said his clients were "extremely happy ... to ultimately have got the outcome they had hoped for".

The ruling may mean that eligibility decisions of similar claims are now in question. An Official Information Act request had shown 369 similar claims had been denied as ineligible on the same basis as the Osbornes had been. According to Mr Rainey, these claims could be worth $80 to $90 million or more.

Those people were in exactly the same situation as the Osbornes. "The results in those eligibility decisions should now all be reversed," he said.


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