Apartment owners say earthquake-strengthening loan scheme eligibility too strict

The Government's announced a low-interest loan scheme to help owners pay for their apartments to be earthquake-strengthened.

The loans are only available to those who meet the eligibility criteria.

But some owners say the eligibility criteria is too strict, the loan cap is too low, and the Government should be offering grants and compensation, not loans.

From the outside the 28 apartments look like any others. But, like thousands of others, they aren't earthquake-strengthened.

Craig Sengelow used to live in the block as an owner-occupier. Nine years ago he moved out but still owns one of the apartments which he says he can't sell.

"A lot of people want to sell but they're just not able to, they feel stuck," he says.

"The banks are reluctant to loan on a building that's earthquake-prone."

On Sunday the Government announced the eligibity criteria for it's Earthquake-Prone Building loan scheme.

However for someone like Sengelow, there's a problem.

"This loan is only for unit occupiers of their own apartments," Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa says.

That's owner-occupiers in high seismic risk areas and for units bought before July 2017.

And to apply they must be able to prove they can't get a loan from a bank or show if they can get a loan, that it would cause signifigant financial hardship.

But for some the $250,000 cap on the loans means they might not be enough to pay for the strengthening.

"From the information we got from 13 buildings, 13 multi-owned residential buildings, the average cost was $438,000 per owner," says Inner-City Wellington spokesperson Geraldine Murphy.

Murphy says the Government should be offering grants or compensation - not loans that include interest.