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News

Human Rights Commission warns on flammable cladding

The use of flammable cladding on Grenfell Tower and other high-rise residential blocks constitutes a breach of the residents’ human rights, according to the Equality & Human Rights Commission, and thus exposes public authorities to prosecution under the Human Rights Act 1998.
The Construction Index

Mornington Peninsula council implements Airbnb, Stayz registration fees and code of conduct for guests

Property owners and holidaymakers in one of Victoria’s most popular destinations face fees and restrictions under new code of conduct laws.
Domain
Melissa Heagney

Top Sydney Apartment Buildings Get Foyer Facelifts to Attract Buyers in Cooling Market

In a softening property market, some of Sydney’s top apartment buildings are boosting their appeal to buyers by dramatically renovating and upgrading their foyers. Owners are forking out up to $1 million to bring their blocks an extra touch of class. “And it’s always worthwhile because first impressions are so important for apartment buildings,” says Vicki Laing of Laing Real Estate in Potts Point. “It is so very important to reinvest in your building and to see your foyers and common areas as part of your home, just like a kitchen, and to recognise when they need an upgrade or a value-add, which can transform a building, and most importantly, make residents appreciate their homes.” The changes can increase value well above actual expenditure. 
Domain
Sue Williams

Sydney unit owners face uncertainty over who will foot $7m bill to remove illegal cladding

Colin Knowles thought he was buying his dream home in Pyrmont in 2000. Little did he know his apartment building was covered in a flammable and dangerous cladding now considered illegal.
Domain
Tawar Razaghi

LU Simon director Jim Moschoyiannis breached building act over Lacrosse cladding

The first legal blow has fallen in Australia's cladding crisis, with a Victorian building regulator finding LU Simon director Jim Moschoyiannis broke the law by putting flammable cladding on Melbourne's Lacrosse building.
Australian Financial Review
Michael Bleby

Cladding is political: Governments will have to pay to replace it, RICS says

Australian governments will have to underwrite or fund the rectification of combustible cladding on residential buildings as an increasing number of apartment owners become unable to do so, one of the UK's top expert advisers on cladding warned on Thursday.
Australian Financial Review
Michael Bleby

Building Ministers' Forum Calls for Mandatory Permanent Labelling of Cladding Products

The NSW Government, along with the Commonwealth and other states and territories, has called for mandatory permanent labelling of cladding products, Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said. State and Territory Building Ministers and the Commonwealth supported the move at the Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF), held in Adelaide yesterday. The Ministers agreed to the proposal for Standards Australia to develop a national standard for permanent labelling of aluminium composite cladding products that would then be mandated through the National Construction Code (NCC). Mr Kean said the agreement demonstrated the benefits of a united approach to cladding safety to help deliver the very best outcomes for residents across Australia. “I’m very pleased to have the support of my colleagues for this sensible reform that will help us ensure the right products are being used in the right ways,” Mr Kean said. “This new requirement is just the latest step in a series of ongoing reforms regarding the use of cladding across NSW. “I can assure the community that we will continue to push for effective, nation-wide action to give Australians certainty and security when it comes to the buildings where they live, work and play.”  Commonwealth Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation Craig Laundy commended Minister Kean on the forum’s results. “I congratulate Minister Kean for playing a key role in assisting myself and the other building Ministers in reaching a common sense solution to what is a problem that needs to be solved,” Mr Laundy said. Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni welcomed the move as a win for cladding safety across the country. “This is a major step in ensuring that buildings with cladding are safe for emergency workers, and a great example of what a bi-partisan approach to a major issue can achieve,” Mr de Brenni said.   More information on the NSW cladding taskforce is available at fair.trading.nsw.gov.au
Press Release
Minister Matt Kean

Urban Forest Fund helps turn concrete common areas into apartment block oases

A recent study projected daily temperatures in Melbourne would rise 3.8C above existing records by the end of the century, even hitting 50C on some days. But as our cities get hotter, green spaces are increasingly being looked at as a way to cool the concrete jungles. It has even prompted the City of Melbourne to offer predominantly ratepayer-funded grants to owners wanting to green private land.    
ABC News
Nicole Mills

Apartment dogs bring 'No Pets' policy to heel

It's a modern-day love affair, set in the glistening, ultra-chic twin towers of Altair in Sydney's Rushcutters Bay. The pair met four years ago, batting eyes as they passed one another in the lobby of the 20-storey apartment complex. Since then, Mambo and Cherry have been regularly smooching and running around the local park together, while pursuing independent lives two floors apart. Maltese poodles ("moodles") can be like that – wildly affectionate, with an edge of boundary-setting – and besides, Mambo has a busy life as an ambassador for the City of Sydney's Strata Paws workshop, which gives tips on how to provide a better life for pets in apartment blocks. 
Sydney Morning Herald
Greg Callaghan

On The Rise: Residents Outraged As Apartments Become AirBnb's

As Nashville continues to experience unprecedented growth, residents in downtown apartment buildings have started feeling the impact of essentially unchecked numbers of Airbnb units suddenly surrounding them overnight. "We signed on for a residential community, and it is a gross misuse of residential units that are being turned into tourism units," says Sam Forum. "When you put so many Airbnb’s in one concentrated place you are essentially turning it into a frat house," she adds.  
News Channel 5
Chris Conte

Fair Trading to ban dangerous aluminium cladding in NSW

The same aluminium cladding that caused the deadly Grenfell Tower fire in London more than a year ago will be banned in NSW as of next Wednesday. It will be an offence to use the building product and corporations could be fined up to $1.1 million and individuals up to $220,000 for its installation. NSW Fair Trading said the ban would also apply retrospectively to buildings where the product was installed before the new rules were announced. Ms Stiles  said the the product ban did not go to the heart of the problem. “Those products were already banned. We don’t know need another ban, we need enforcement of the existing regulation. There’s been substitution and there’s been inadequate supervision,” Ms Stiles said. “The current regime of self-certification is letting down the community. It’s very concerning and the government needs to take action to ensure the community is protected from substituted, non-compliant products.”
Domain
Tawar Razaghi

Can the design of an apartment affect your mental health?

Researchers from Melbourne and Western Australia have launched a study looking at whether state government design policies for apartments help to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing. The study, Optimising apartment design policy to equitably enhance mental health, a collaboration between RMIT and the University of Western Australia, also aims to influence future apartment design policies introduced or updated by state governments in Australia.
Domain
Melissa Heagney

Objecting owners forced to sell in Macquarie Park strata renewal scheme

One of the first strata renewal and collective sales of apartments in NSW has closed in Sydney's Macquarie Park, but not without a long-drawn legal stoush between owners and buyer that could be cause for a review of new laws. Developer VIMG's acquisition of 40 out of 48 apartments at 159-161 Epping Road was one of the earliest collective sales strata lots in NSW since the introduction of the new strata renewal rule in late 2016, where 75 per cent of owners of a scheme can force its sale for urban renewal. While new laws might not be perfect initially, the Owners Corporation Network said these initial cases highlighted a need for the NSW government to re-examine them. "I think it is time for the legislators to review the law in light of initial cases whether it is best-practice regulation that they hoped for," OCN chief executive Karen Stiles said. "The renewal process should be robust and that dissenting owners should be given due process."
Australian Financial Review
Su-Lin Tan

Victoria turns to EUA model to rectify flammable cladding crisis

Victoria will introduce a “world-first” financial mechanism to help residential building owners pay for urgent rectification works caused by the installation of non-conforming and non-compliant flammable cladding on high-rise apartment buildings in the state. Planning minister Richard Wynne on Thursday said changes to the Local Government Act would introduce “Cladding Rectification Agreements”, or CRAs, which would be similar to the Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA) model, which allows owners to upgrade buildings and pay off the costs via council rates. Under the model, owners or owners corporations would enter into an arrangement with lenders and a local council, accessing a long-term low-interest loan to pay for the building works, which would then be paid off by an increase in council rates over a minimum period of 10 years. Costs would be transferred to new owners if the property were sold.
The Fifth Estate
Cameron Jewell

Electric Vehicle Charging

In March 2017 the City of Sydney engaged Wattblock to run an "Electric Vehicle Recharging in Residential Strata" project to help make hybrid and electric vehicles more viable in apartment buildings.  Wattblock is an exciting Australian technology start up which has assisted strata buildings housing over 43,000 individuals with common area energy saving, solar & battery feasibility studies and NABERS for Apartment Building assessments.

The catalyst for this project was the city's interest in assisting strata schemes to...