Time Limits For Leaky Home Claims 08 Dec 2011

If you have any concerns that you may have a leaky home, it's important that you act quickly to investigate your concerns.  Parry Field Lawyers provide legal advice on a range of property matters including leaky home claims.


Types of Time Limit

There are two different limitation periods that apply to leaky homes.

6 year Limitation Period
Under New Zealand's Limitation Act 1950, any claim in negligence or contract must be brought within six years of the cause of action accruing.

Under a claim for negligence the six years runs from that time that defects or damage affecting the value of a leaky home were reasonably discoverable. This might be, for example, the point at which the average house owner would to engage a building inspector to check problems the home owner is noticing in the house. For example, the cause of action for negligent building work may well accrue where a house owner is concerned enough about some defect or damage to call in a building expert.

Because leaks can be hidden in the house's walls, it can take many years for water damage or defects to become apparent. This may mean that the six year time period does not start to run for a number of years after the house is completed.

10 year Long Stop
However, the Building Act 2004 imposes a second absolute 10 year time limit. Any claim in relation to building work must be brought within 10 years of the relevant building work or building inspection work being carried out.  Many leaky buildings were built between 1998 and 2002. This means that an increasing number of claims may already be outside the 10 year time limit.

The necessary court proceedings must be drafted and filed at the court within that 10-year period. The rule has a slightly different effect on claims brought before the Weathertight Homes Tribunal. Under that Tribunal, the requirement is only that you must have requested an assessor's report within the 10-year period.

What if it is now more than 10 years since my house was built?
If the 10 year time limit stops you bringing a claim relating to the original building work, it might still be possible to bring a claim if any subsequent repair or alteration work has been negligent. The 10 year time limit for that work will run from the date that the relevant work was carried out.

Should you need any assistance with this, or with any other Litigation matters, please contact Paul Cowey (348 8480) at Parry Field Lawyers.