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Council gives tenants a week to leave

Published: 5:24AM Friday June 15, 2012 Source: Fairfax

A Christchurch man recovering from triple bypass surgery is among 20 tenants who have been given only seven days to get out of their earthquake-damaged homes.

The Christchurch City Council announced yesterday that 20 units at Reg Stilwell Place city housing complex in New Brighton have to be closed.

The move came after an engineering evaluation revealed the building did not meet the minimum seismic capacity of the New Building Standard (NBS) and was at risk from continuing quakes.

The city council issued tenants seven days notice to vacate the units.

Fourteen units in the 34-unit complex have already been vacated because of earthquake damage.

Jason Oliver, 41, who only recently left hospital after major surgery, said he was shocked at the news.

"I'm not even supposed to lift things and they say I have to be out of here in seven days. All my family have left town because of the quakes. I've got nowhere to go."

Oliver said his condition meant it would be another four weeks before he could return to his part-time job at an electronics store, making moving house a daunting prospect.

"I'm still pretty tender. I'm numb in the leg and they've told me it's going to take a while before I come right. It's pretty tough."

He asked why he was not given more warning.

"We've been here so long already, what's another couple of weeks?"

Community services general manager Michael Aitken said the move was required to ensure residents' safety.

"We understand this will be upsetting for affected tenants, but the council will be taking every step possible to help them find other accommodation. Although we are required to give tenants seven days notice, we will be working with them to help them move earlier if possible."

Aitken said he was aware of the need for more social housing in Christchurch after the earthquakes.

The council has recently received an initial payout of $21 million from the Earthquake Commission for its quake-damaged housing. The offer is being reviewed by staff.

Pensioner William Kirk, 67, was also outraged at the lack of notice.

"I've been here for 10 years and now they tell me to get out in seven days. It was such a shock, I can't believe it."

He did not think the council would be able to find somewhere for him to go, and they had not given him details about where that could be.

"I will not leave unless they find me a place. I'll change the locks. They'll have to bulldoze the place and drag me out."

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