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Free cladding fire safety forum for strata residents
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24/08/2017 - 3:43 pm
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Apartment owners who are left in the dark but expected to pick up the bill to fix buildings at risk of serious fire will have an opportunity to get quality advice and information at a free public forum in Sydney on Thursday 31 August.

The Strata Fire Safety Forum, convened by Lannock Strata Finance – sponsors of the Flat Chat website – and Bannermans Lawyers, will present a panel of experts representing legal, insurance, real estate, engineering, finance and strata management, filling the information vacuum around unsafe aluminium cladding on thousands of buildings across Australia.

Lannock CEO Paul Morton said the issue was urgent and not being addressed with the speed and transparency that was required. “The people most at risk in terms of personal safety and financial hurt have not been kept in the information loop,” said Mr Morton.

“There is little public information available and what there is only raises more questions and is often conflicting. Regulatory failures by many parties over many years have brought us to this crisis and while both the problem and solution is complex, every strata manager, landlord, owner-occupier or tenant needs to know what action they should take, right now, not at some indeterminate time in the future. In the strata community there is a high level of concern and distrust, borne from the fact that every person who bought an apartment did so in the belief that the system of checks and approvals was robust and reliable. Events have proven otherwise.”

Bannermans’ Principal Lawyer David Bannerman said the issue of dangerous aluminium cladding and other non-complying materials had everybody in the industry running scared but responsibility had been shifted to strata owners.

“This is going to have far-reaching consequences for apartment owners, builders, developers, insurers and certifiers,” said Mr Bannerman. The [NSW] Government has begun writing to the owners of 1,000 buildings identified as potentially at risk but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Even if you don’t receive a letter in the mail it doesn’t mean you can presume you are safe.”

Mr Bannerman said there was only a two year statutory warranty on non-compliant aluminium cladding for strata schemes constructed under a contract entered into after February 2012. There is a seven year statutory warranty for contracts entered into before that date. “For those who have missed the warranty period there are other more difficult legal avenues to pursue,” said Mr Bannerman.

Mr Morton said strata owners needed to be pro-active and arm themselves with the knowledge and information required to make good decisions.

“What strata owners need now is information so they can make decisions about whether they should act independently and have their building inspected or wait for a notification. If they hear nothing, should they presume they’re OK and will their insurers take the same view?

“What is their legal liability if a fire does occur and it can be attributed to aluminium cladding or some other non-complying product? Will owners be able to sell their apartments if they cannot prove beyond doubt that the building is compliant?  And will apartment rental income be impacted in a building where there is a fire safety risk?

“These are the types of questions strata owners across Australia are asking, which we will address at the Forum. Attendees will be able to put their own questions to the panel of experts.

“We know that there are a lot of angry owners who are going to take a financial hit through no fault of their own but it is important that we advance the conversation and provide a way forward rather than dwell on blame and recrimination.”

The panel of experts includes:

Paul Keating                Managing Director, Strata Community Insurance
Peter Blair                   Project Director, Structured Project Management
David Bannerman       Principal, Bannermans Lawyers
Chris Duggan               President, Strata Community Australia (NSW)
Malcolm Gunning        President, Real Estate Institute of Australia
Paul Morton                CEO, Lannock Strata Finance

The Strata Fire Safety Forum will be held on Thursday August 31, 6pm to 7.30pm, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney. Closest train station Town Hall. Seating for this free event is limited.

Book here

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