Candidate: Southern Response Wrongly Withheld Refunds

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

The Labour Candidate for Christchurch Central, Dr Duncan Webb has discovered that Southern Response owes homeowners thousands in wrongly withheld refunds.Media Release

9 January 2017

Labour Candidate Finds Southern Response Wrongly Withheld Council Refunds

The Labour Candidate for Christchurch Central, Dr Duncan Webb has discovered that Southern Response owes homeowners thousands in wrongly withheld refunds.

Southern Response has been keeping refunds paid by the City Council when building consents lapse, rather than paying them to homeowners. The refunds relate to inspection fees and form part of the “cost of repair” that should be paid to homeowners.

Southern Response has not provided information on how much it has wrongly withheld, or how many homeowners are affected. It has said it will individually review each credit paid by the City Council to it or Arrow, its project manager. It stated “if a credit has been received by Southern Response or Arrow for a lapsed building consent we will pass this on to the affected customers. Going forward this will form part of our standard process”.

Webb says that this shows that Southern Response’s existing processes were flawed.

“It must have been obvious that these payments belong to the homeowner” he says.

“If payments of this nature are being overlooked then there may be real concerns about other processes which are not subject to the same scrutiny – it was pure chance I picked this up”.

Webb obtained information under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act from Council and found that there are 192 lapsed consents which relate solely to Arrow led residential projects. If each consent has average of $1600.00 refund due that is over $300,000 which has been wrongly withheld.

“How Southern Response could think that it was appropriate to keep these payments is inexplicable” he says “and it is unclear to me why the City Council would repay Arrow and Southern Response rather than the home owner whose building it relates to”.

Southern Response will not confirm the extent of the problem, and has not provided further information requested to date. It has stated that if any individual customers believe this situation may apply to them, they should contact their claim specialist in the first instance.

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