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Unit owners face defect bills of $100k-plus EACH
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Jimmy-T
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02/01/2019 - 12:16 pm
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The residents of the Opal building don’t know how lucky they are. The fact that they have both high-profile and respected developers and builders involved – plus the public attention on their plight – means they will be taken care of. Others are not so fortunate.

The Australian newspaper this week highlighted the misfortunes of resident of the Elara Apartments in the northern suburbs of Canberra, first reported on the ABC in February last year.

Elara owners thought they were buying their dream homes, instead they have endured physical struggles with $20 million of defects making some apartments almost uninhabitable, as well as bitter legal battles.

Now they face financial ruin as the law says the owners corporation (body corporate) must maintain and repair the property, but those who should be paying the bills are running for cover.

According to the Australian story, the apartment complex, next to the University of Canberra, features huge cracks in the walls, the large concrete marks where paint once was and the sound of dripping water.

To make matters worse, the developer B&T Con­structions has gone into liquidation and the apartment owners are now battling the Master Builders Fidelity Fund in court, with a finding due early next year.

Owners face special levies in excess of $100,000 each to fix the damage and there will be a shortfall even if they succeed in having the Master Builders Fidelity Fund pay up.

Bad as this is for the Elara residents, the real problem is that experts know hundreds, possibly thousands of similar stories are being repeated all over Australia, bringing personal misery and financial hardship to families.

Meanwhile, faced with multi-million-dollar defects bills, the developers and builders shut up shop and often start again under a different name.

And don’t be fooled – this is not about certifiers, it’s about bad building practices and poor supervision.  Certifiers are not quality controllers.

The real, sickening scandal is that our politicians – Labor and Liberal, alike –  have known about this for decades and have done nothing, lest they lost the support of their mates in the property development industry.

And that’s why we will never see what the apartment sector really needs – a Royal Commission into why and how ordinary people are being ripped off, just to fill developers pockets and political party coffers.

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Bunyip1
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09/01/2019 - 9:02 am
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Jimmy T,

The whole sector needs a full overhaul and we all have to keep making noise about. The unwillingness of State to establish a commission or have a ” real ” look into strata may suggest the presence of  ” conflicts of interest ” among the decision makers. Recently, a decision not the increase renter’s rights in NSW shone a light on the decision makers and their own personal positions as landlords of multiple investment properties as ” conflicts of interest ” but as usual the standard get out of jail excuse ” ..it was all declared ” was used. This declaration excuse seems to be the go to antidote for any conflicts of interest for Strata Managers and Government. We all know major ” conflicts of interests ” exists, it’s time to ditch that torch spotlight and use the SCG lights on the industry. Keep up the good work Jimmy T and hopefully someone will finally listen. Petitions !

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Silly Cow
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09/01/2019 - 6:57 pm
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I agree with Bunyip.  There is no way that “disclosure” obviates a conflict of interest.  Total crap.  There has to be an investigation into the whole strata building thing, whether by royal commission or otherwise.  Further, how did the NSW govt get away with reducing the defects provisions and lowering the bar ? Outrageous.

This legislation may be able to be challenged as ultra vires the government’s power.  In the meantime, we should all join the owners’ corp ginger group and give it backing to bring representative (class) actions against directors and shareholders (!) of liquidated builders and developers.  It can be done and the organisation could well get a litigation funder for this.   

I am joining this organisation right now and will put myself up to organise an action, be the lawyer for the plaintiff, on spec if we can’t get a funder, hire Counsel to do the same, and run it in the appropriate court in NSW.  We need a building in NSW to complain about and not Opal as it will get its own attention. 

So which building is suitable for this proceeding?  The best one would be one that has been certified and the defects period has expired but which has ongoing defects which are not covered by the useless bond.  It might be too early for this to be apparent under the amended legislation so the next best thing is a building that is caught between the old legislation and the new and has suffered accordingly or an older building in the same situation as the ACT ones.  Any takers?

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Jimmy-T
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09/01/2019 - 9:32 pm
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The strata “ginger group” is the Owners Corporation Network and you’ll find them at http://www.ocn.org.au.

There will never be a Royal Commission into the strata building scandals in NSW because both Labor and the Coalition are equally culpable.  Labor started the mess – and they won’t want anyone to know exactly how and why – and the Liberals had eight years to fix it but did nothing of any significance.

There isn’t enough room in Eddie Obeid’s jail for all the politicians who sold us down the river for personal gain and political favour.

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Bunyip1
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11/01/2019 - 9:29 am
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Aye Jimmy T and Silly Cow,

I’m glad there is passion in the belly for this stuff but it’s disheartening that Jimmy T believes there will never be any commission or ” real ” investigation done into the sector. These self serving politicians who keep telling us what they’re doing better for our state but as we all know they are pretty much stuffing up everything they touch. I live in hope, anyone say royal commission into our politicians and the system? we can only dream!

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