This is the time of year when everybody’s doing horoscopes for the coming 12 months so we should have our own predictions, our Strata-scope, if you like.
Firstly, there’s a major reality check on defects. We are hitting the end of a cycle that began when building warranty insurance for high-rises was wiped and now the first big blocks to come under the new regime have lost millions of dollars in failed attempts to get what they paid for.
Legal niceties and red tape are laced across strata law like booby-trapped trip wires. Already, two iconic buildings in this city have failed, entirely on technicalities, to get developers to make good on defects worth more than $5 million.
Home owners who volunteered their time to run these cases found themselves ranged against highly paid attack-dog lawyers whose only function was to destroy their cases by whatever means necessary.
It cost those owners literally millions of dollars on legal fees before they discovered that there is little justice and no safety net; when developer push comes to legal shove, Fair Trading are nowhere to be seen. Ironically, once they have identified defects, owners corporations (that’s you) have a legal obligation to repair the faults themselves. That obligation does not extend to the people who cause the problems in the first place.
So the message from our decade-long conga line of premiers, planning supremos and Fair Trading ministers is clear. If your nice new apartment block has defects, do exactly what they do: first pretend there is no problem, then deny all responsibility and finally leave it to the next guy.
My other prediction for 2010 is that somebody will finally do something about wooden floors in apartments. We got the biggest response to any other topic – by about five times – when we ran columns about timber floors last year. Both parties are victims: the owners conned into buying inadequately insulated flooring and their neighbours underneath who suffer the consequences.
There is now a separate page on our Flat Chat website devoted to this problem and what you can do about it. Log on to the attractive timber box on the Home Page for a package of case studies and information.