The powers that be in the state government aren’t saying much but the plan for a high-rise fire safety task force leaked to the media this weekend is very real and quite scary.
We know it’s real because we have been told as much, albeit off the record. The reason there is no official confirmation is because the government aren’t sure exactly what it’s going to do – they just know they need to do something.
For a start, as a matter of urgency they need to establish how many buildings in NSW have been fitted with the inflammable cladding that caused the rapid spread of the terrible Grenfell Tower fire in London (not to mention the Lacrosse fire two years ago in Melbourne).
But then, as soon as they have that, the information becomes something else entirely – a legal responsibility. It’s one of the basic tenets of strata law that Owners Corporations have a legally enforceable duty to maintain and repair common property.
Or, to put it another way, that cladding has to be replaced and in the vast majority of cases we, the owners, have to pay for it. Judging by the bills from the Lacrosse building, that could average out at $50,000 a unit. Could be more, could be less, but it won’t be cheap.
OK, there are lives at stake here but there has to be a better way than forcing the potential victims to pay the price while the culprits – the shoddy builders and dodgy developers who cut corners to save $7 per square metre – wander off without a care in the world.
While you are stewing on that, here’s a roundup of the little and large issues from this week’s Flat Chat Forum.
- What do you do when committee members are dropping like flies and no one wants to join? That’s HERE.
- Who is responsible for fitting window locks in older buildings? That’s HERE.
- How much time do you get in which to register a by-law? That’s HERE.
- How can a new by-law for an old scheme suddenly just appear? And can it be changed? That’s HERE.
- Can the strata committee pass a by-law instructing owners to paint common property on their lots. That’s HERE.