Earthquake-prone Wellington apartment owner says Government's loan scheme is not enough

Applications for a loan scheme to help fund strengthening work for earthquake-prone apartments have opened but so far no one has applied.

It comes as owners say they're concerned they're being forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for something the Government changed the rules around.

The loan scheme was announced in the 2019 budget and is supposed to help homeowners earthquake strengthen their home.

Carol Brown has lived in her central Wellington apartment since the 1980s. The Government's rules have thrown her retirement plans of moving to the UK to live with her family up in the air.

Brown doesn't know when she will see her family again because her apartment is deemed earthquake-prone - below the 34 percent threshold of the new building standard.

Before she can sell it'll cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring up to code - despite being eligible for the scheme she won't take it.

"I don't want to take out a loan. I am debt-free, I'm moving toward the end of my life." 

Applicants can apply for a loan of upto $250,000 for earthquake strengthening costs, but have to prove they can't get a loan from a bank and must be an owner-occupier. 

Brown believes there should be an element of compensation like the millions paid out during the Gun Buyback scheme.

"Not one cent of compensation is being offered to us for our homes whereas other people got compensated for their weapons."

The Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa doesn't agree, she says the two schemes have different circumstances.

"Gun owners had their possession confiscated as part of the gun buyback, while this loan scheme will improve the value of the asset for the homeowner."

Mel Johnstone owns an apartment in MacAlister Heights but isn't eligible for the scheme because she's moved out.

"Strengthening will only bring us back to square one. There's no increase in value, we're not creating wealth."

Applications for the loan scheme will close in June of 2027 but two weeks after applications opened no one has applied for the loan scheme yet.

However, Kainga Ora says it's had a number of expressions of interest.

Even if applicants take out the loan some say the cap of $250,000 won't be enough.

Inner-City Wellington spokesperson Geraldine Murphy says many apartment owners will be facing much higher costs. 

"In our survey which we did earlier this year out of 76 owners who gave us information on strengthening costs the average was $302,000."

The cost of complying, not adding up for apartment owners.