Home buybacks are progressing for homeowners in the Northern Rivers, with the first offers now underway.
The buybacks are part of the Northern Rivers Resilient Homes Program, jointly funded by the Federal and NSW Governments, with the first of them being made to residential homeowners located in the highest-risk flood zones.
Federal Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt said the $700 million program aimed to support thousands of homeowners in the Ballina, Byron, Clarence Valley, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed Local Government Areas to re-establish their lives after the devastating floods.
“By getting people out of harms’ way we can help to prevent repeats of the life-altering floods we’ve seen in the last few years in the Northern Rivers,” Minister Watt said.
“This package is about protecting families and properties from future floods, and is one of a number of recovery supports being offered in the region.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation (NRRC) aims to make buyback offers to the first 250 residents whose homes are in the region’s highest flood risk areas by the end of April and would only ramp up from there.
“The first buyback offers mark an important milestone for the recovery of the Northern Rivers,” Mr Toole said.
“This can give the community the confidence that we are moving forward with our promised support and confirms we will leave no one behind on the recovery ahead.
“This program allows flood-affected locals to weigh up their options on their own terms and in their own time – and puts support around them through that process.”
New South Wales Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke said a trial of the program was carried out to ensure the smoothest possible process.
“Given the scale of the flooding disaster and its impact on communities, it’s important we get the buyback process right,” Ms Cooke said.
“These first offers have involved the establishment of a considered property assessment and valuation process, a dedicated call centre and an expanded team of case managers who have real-world experience having worked with homeowners during the recovery from the Black Summer bush fires.”
NRRC chief executive David Witherdin said all residents registered with the Resilient Homes Program would be contacted about their eligibility to receive a buyback, or funding support for house raising or home retrofitting by mid-2023.
“I know for many people, receiving a buyback offer will be life changing and the next step on their recovery journey. I want to assure everyone there is no pressure to decide and people can take as long or as little time as they need to consider their offer and their options,” Mr Witherdin said.
“I cannot overstate the scale, complexity and importance of the Resilient Homes Program and want everyone to know we are committed to working with and listening to the community, ensuring homeowners have the information they need and providing access to independent support and advisory services.”
The Northern Rivers Resilient Homes Program will also provide financial assistance of up to $100,000 for house raising or up to $50,000 for retrofitting for homeowners in areas where flood risk can be reduced by better building standards. Work on house raising and retrofit work is expected to commence from mid-2023 onwards.
Since the announcement of the program, the NRRC has hosted more than 50 community information sessions attended by more than 1800 residents. Information session details are regularly published on the NRRC Resilient Homes Program webpage.
The $700 million program builds on the more than $3.5 billion already committed by the Commonwealth and NSW Governments to help flood-impacted communities recover. Both Governments will continue to work together to provide the appropriate support to these communities. For detailed information about the program, including guidelines, eligibility and co-contributions, go to the Resilient Homes Program website.
The Resilient Homes Program will offer eligible homeowners one of the three available measures, based on expert property assessments, flood impact severity data, safety risks and potential future flood levels:
Home Buy-back – the homeowner receives a payment for the purchase of the land and house based on a valued amount; or
Home Raising – up to $100,000 towards the cost of elevating home liveable areas and associated retrofitting; or
Home Retrofit – up to $50,000 towards the cost of retrofit and/or repair works to incorporate flood resilient design and materials in liveable areas.
To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:
You are a homeowner (owner-occupier or landlord) of a residence (house/unit/duplex) in the Ballina, Byron, Clarence Valley, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley or Tweed LGAs (Local Government Areas) prior to the February and March 2022 floods.
- You are the homeowner of a residence that was either:
- directly damaged by flood waters in the February and March 2022 floods; or
- damaged as a result of landslip caused by the February and March 2022 floods.
- Your home is a residence (house/unit/duplex) not used primarily for business purposes.
- You meet the impact eligibility criteria relevant to each program stream.
Resilient Homes Program registration and next steps
To register for the Resilient Homes Program, or review the program guidelines, eligibility criteria, go to the Resilient Homes Program website.
A NRRC representative will contact applicants to discuss next steps. These include being assigned a case manager, who will arrange an independent valuer to inspect and assess the property, a review of the report by the NSW Valuer General, followed by application assessment and a letter of offer to eligible applicants.
All Resilient Homes Program applicants will be contacted about their eligibility for one of the three measures (Home Buy-back, Home Raising, Home Retrofit) by mid-2023.
A fact sheet and Frequently Asked Questions document outlining timing, key steps and additional information is available at the Resilient Homes Program website.