Public Rental Board has valid 99 year leases over land at Raiwaqa and Raiwai. Tenants were given two year tenancy agreements with PRB; these tenancies were not renewed at expiry in 2003 as the Board was in the process of relocating tenants away. The four storey buildings have a total number of 344 one room and two room flats.
Tenants were advised in 2003 to vacate their flats because of the structural deficiency of buildings in an earthquake situation.
2. CONSULTANT ENGINEERS’ REPORTS
In 1996 AWH Tierney engineering consultants was commissioned by the PRB board to undertake an engineering assessment of the structures. The resultant report highlighted various deficiencies structurally and non-structurally however confirmed that the structures are vulnerable to seismic loading on the longitudinal direction. This report was tabled in Cabinet in 2003 whereby Cabinet decided to relocate all tenants away and demolish the structures.
In 2003 Public Rental Board, Board of Directors again commissioned the engineering firm of Sinclair Knight Merze which confirmed the AWH Tierney report, that the structures are vulnerable to seismic loading on the longitudinal direction.
In 2004 the PRB Board again commissioned the engineering firm of Houng Lee Kaba Jacobs to look at upgrading the structures and also look at the two earlier reports. The cost of upgrading was estimated at more than $3m. The Board then decided in 2004 that the tenants must vacate the flats and structures demolished.
3. RENTAL FOREGONE
In March 2004 the Board ceased all rent charged to the 4- storey flats thus incurring a loss in rental revenue of around $0.25m annually.
The board also exhausted all notices for tenants to vacate including series of meetings with the community and on a one to one basis advising them of risks to lives.
4. INCENTIVES FOR RELOCATION
Public Rental Board saw that the advice given to tenants to vacate was ineffective thus in 2005 offered four options to encourage tenants to make decision. The options are as follows:
i) HART relocation for financially disadvantaged tenants with maximum benefit of $750
ii) Relocation to other PRB estates with maximum benefits of $1,000
iii) Home ownership with HA with maximum benefit of $5,000 for materials and labour for construction of standard design houses including 50% subsidy from HA towards land costs.
iv) Relocation to village with maximum benefit of $5,000 towards building materials and transportation costs to tenants respective villages.
The above incentives were not favourably considered by tenants.
The Board of Directors in April of 2008, because more than half of tenants continued to stay, decided as a last option, to give cash incentives; otherwise forcefully remove tenants through the Court system if they refuse to move out. The cash incentives range from $500 to $3,000 depending on the weekly household income of tenants.
Calculations of the above cash incentives were based on a household income survey conducted by the Board late last year. Findings of the survey revealed that some nine tenants received income of more than $300 per week; these tenants were asked to vacate their flats without any cash incentives.
The Board continues to plead with tenants to make the decision to move out early because of the huge risks involved in their continuing to occupy the four storey flats. As of Wednesday 4th June, 2008 166 families continue to stay; *** in Raiwai and **** in Raiwaqa. The Board however has targeted that all flats be vacated by December 31, 2008 to make way for demolition and new low cost housing to be built on the two sites.
The Board gives assurance to the relocated tenants that they can apply for allocation in the new buildings that will b constructed.
Colonel Samuela Saumatua
Chairman, Board of Directors
Public Rental Board