Strata managers back a better cladding deal for owners

Strata management unbrella organisation Strata Community Australia say they are stepping up their fight for fairness as the issue of non-compliant aluminium cladding hits strata owners across Australia.

And the first step would be to have dangerous flammable cladding declared a major defect in new buildings, allowing owners six years to claim against builders and developers, rather than the two-year limit for non-major defects that exists at present.

Speaking at the Strata Fire Safety Forum, convened by Flat Chat sponsors Lannock Strata Finance last month, SCA President Chris Duggan said a whole of government approach was required to address a complex issue.

“We want to see more protection for strata owners, including an extension of the definition of major defects to include aluminium cladding,” said Mr Duggan.

“The first and most urgent step, with safety our uppermost concern, is to identify the presence of non-complying materials on buildings. But beyond that, the unanswered question is, who pays?

“Strata owners played no part in creating the problem but because they are the ones with the most to lose it has been left to them to pick up the tab.

“This is a problem that has been many years in the making and the failures extend right through the supply chain.”

Chris Duggan interview: http://bit.ly/2yqqjc4

Mr Duggan, who heads the peak industry body for strata and community title managers, said its members were looking for government leadership to help them fulfil their obligations to strata owners.

“We are pleased to be working with the NSW Government to bring clarity to this situation,” said Mr Duggan. “There are many complexities around the issue and owners’ corporations are relying on strata managers to navigate the way.

“We know the problem is big but we don’t yet know how big. Owners are facing large additional costs that had not been anticipated, firstly for inspections and then if rectification works or fire safety upgrades are required.

“The impacts are far-reaching, affecting insurance and valuations. We know of strata schemes that are already struggling to find cover or facing a hike in premiums.”

Lannock Managing Director Paul Morton said the Forum had been convened to bring together experts qualified to give specialist advice and information to strata owners and managers.

“There is a lot of conflicting information around non-compliant and non-conforming aluminium cladding and we saw an urgent need to bring clarity to the subject,” said Mr Morton.

“Strata managers are the ones at the coal face and it is imperative that they have an understanding of the scale of the problem and the need for swift action to protect the interests of their clients. The Lannock Forum set out to fill the information vaccum so that all those with an interest in strata could make informed decisions about the best way forward.”

Strata Community Australia is holding a Cladding Forum in Sydney this week and planning a Cladding and Building Products National Summit in December.

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