What to Do If Your House's Structural Safety Is Compromised After an Earthquake?

地震 補助

In recent years, Taiwan has experienced numerous earthquakes, with aftershocks continuing after the 0403 earthquake, causing damage and collapse of many buildings. Notable incidents include the collapse of the Weiguan Jinlong building in Tainan during the Meinong earthquake in Kaohsiung, and the collapse of the first two floors of the Marshal Hotel, the 45-degree tilt of the Yun Men Tsui Ti building, the structural damage to the old Far Eastern Department Store building, and the collapse of low floors in the residential communities like Platinum Twin Stars and Wu Ju Wu Su during the Hualien earthquake two years ago. These tragic events have raised concerns among many people: "Is my house safe after an earthquake?" and "What should I do if its structural safety is compromised?"

In response, the Executive Yuan has been promoting policies for old house inspections and seismic assessments in recent years. Various county and city governments also offer subsidies for these inspections and assessments. Therefore, it is recommended that residents of older houses or those with potential structural safety concerns after an earthquake conduct inspections and assessments. However, if an inspection reveals structural safety issues, or if the building shows cracks, tilts, or damage due to design flaws or construction negligence, what legal claims can residents make? Is it possible to seek compensation from the builder or related parties? Can government subsidies or compensations for seismic reinforcement be requested? These are crucial issues for many people after an earthquake. The following provides some reference information:

Civil Claims

If a building shows cracks, tilts, or damage after an earthquake due to design flaws or construction negligence, residents can claim damages from the builder, designer (architect, professional technician), supervisor, or contractor based on civil law regarding breach of contract, warranty against defects, tort, and consumer protection laws. Since the legal requirements differ among these laws, professional legal advice based on individual cases can facilitate smoother civil claims and better protect residents' rights. Additionally, if the builder or related parties attempt to evade future civil claims by disposing of assets, it is advisable to seek immediate legal assistance to apply for a court injunction to prevent asset disposal, ensuring that successful claims can be enforced.

Seismic Reinforcement Subsidies

If an old house inspection or seismic assessment indicates the need for structural reinforcement or rebuilding, residents can follow the regulations of the Central Urban Renewal Fund Subsidy and Self-Implementation Method to carry out building maintenance or seismic reinforcement and apply for related subsidies from the local government's designated office.

State Compensation

According to the Building Act, local government authorities must inspect construction projects to ensure public safety. If public officials fail to fulfill their inspection duties, leading to undetected construction flaws or negligence that cause damage during an earthquake, residents can seek state compensation for the resulting damages. If negotiations with the responsible authority fail, a subsequent state compensation lawsuit can be considered.


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