Unit owners face defect bills of $100k-plus EACH

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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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