Scaremongering on Apartment Defects Irresponsible

Claims by the Owners Corporation Network and the state opposition that the recent changes to the Home Building Act will lessen consumer protection for defective work on apartment buildings are not correct says the Urban Taskforce.

“ The definition of Major Defect in the amendments to the Home Building Act is quite clear that this includes where a defect prevents part of a building being used for its intended purpose and that this would particularly apply to major elements like a fire safety system or for waterproofing.” Says Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson “I can’t see how the Owners Corporation Network (OCN) interprets this to mean a lowering of importance for waterproofing or fire safety system defects.”

“ The government’s own website on the changes to the Act clarifies that a faulty waterproofing membrane that caused water to leak into only one room would be a major defect.”

“ The Urban Taskforce and other property groups have worked with consumer groups to lessen the enormous amount of funds that are currently spent on legal battles over possible defects. The industry and OCN agreed to a package of changes that ensure quality builders and developers will not be continually fighting claims that have dubious evidence. This included a new definition of Major Defect which we thought was a fair benchmark for all concerned.”

“ It is concerning to now see the state opposition quoting OCN claims that says 85% of apartments since 2000 have defects. These assertions are actually based on a survey by the City Futures unit at the University of NSW and is based on less than 300 respondents of which half said they had no problem getting the defects fixed. There were 600,000 strata units in NSW at the time of the survey so 300 respondents is a small percentage of the total.”

“ With a growing interest in apartment living it is important that quality buildings are constructed and that any defects are quickly rectified. The changes to the Home Building Act would seem to be contributing to a better process for ensuring quality and for managing defects where they occur.”

“ The Urban Taskforce supports the improvements to the Home Building Act made by the NSW Government and we are keen to continue constructive discussions with all parties in the industry. This needs to be with the objective of building confidence in apartments as a way of living rather than creating fear in the minds of potential apartment owners.”

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