‘Time running out for cladding claims’ – lawyer

The clock is ticking for strata owners if they are to have any hope of getting the people responsible for illegal composite aluminium cladding on their buildings to pay for the repairs.

 David Bannerman,  a strata and construction lawyer who co-convened the Strata Fire Safety Forum with Lannock Strata Finance, says statutory warranties are complicated and time sensitive.

“The chain of people responsible for the proliferation of non-complying material used in apartment construction is long, from the importer to the designer, builder and certifier,” said Mr Bannerman.

“Different warranty periods apply at each stage of the supply chain but one thing is certain, time is fast running out for many owners to make a claim under the statutory warranty.”

Recent changes to NSW legislation mean that buildings where the contract was issued after 1 February 2012 have a two year time limit, meaning that it’s already too late for some building owners. Apartments where the contract pre-dates February 2012 have a seven year time limitation, offering some a narrow window to make a claim for some.

“The cut-off dates are non-extendable,” said Mr Bannerman. “I’ve seen many clients who have missed out by a day or two weeks because they acted too late.

“However there may be other legal avenues to pursue so owners should not lose heart but seek expert advice. Anybody who can see shiny metallic cladding material on the outside of their building should be acting now, not waiting for a letter to arrive from the government or for somebody else to raise the issue.”

Mr Bannerman, said strata owners should take the opportunity to delve beyond external fire risk.

“It is well known that a lot of fire measures in strata are not up to standard,” said Mr Bannerman, “so if you’re getting the cladding inspected by a fire engineer it’s an opportunity to audit the entire building.”

Paul Morton, CEO of Lannock Strata Finance, said the media and strata industry focus on the risks posed by the non-compliant use of composite aluminium cladding had served to keep pressure on the community to address real safety concerns.

“This is not the first time that risks in strata have been brought to light,” said Mr Morton. “But on previous occasions they’ve been swept under the carpet or delayed until everybody loses interest and returns to business as usual.

“But the very real threat to life posed by non-compliant composite aluminium cladding means that failure to act now, when so much is known about the risk, would have serious consequences in terms of culpability.

“Strata owners must investigate the true extent of the problem they have, which means acting quickly to seek the very best professional advice, including from lawyers, regarding the potential for litigation to seek redress.”

Article supplied by Lannock strata finance.

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