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News

The nightmare continues: Residents of Opal Tower face New Year's Eve misery as hotels fill with tourists - leaving them homeless

New Years Eve hotel bookings are threatening to push the already displaced residents of Sydney's cracked Opal Tower back into uncertainty. Hundreds of residents were first evacuated after loud cracking noises heard by residents prompted calls to emergency services on Christmas Eve. Thousands of people were evacuated from the surrounding areas amid fears the tower could collapse. Stephen Goddard, chairman of the Owners Corporation Network of Australia, told the Sydney Morning Herald residents would likely be out of their homes for much more than 10 days. 'Welcome to the Gypsy life,' he said. 'It's going to continue for a very long time. If you think 10 days is it, you're out of your mind.'  
Daily Mail

'Welcome to the Gypsy life': New Year's pain for Opal Tower residents

Embattled Opal Tower residents housed in accommodation booked out for the New Year's period might have to move a third time in days, in "another nuisance" admitted by the building's developer. Anger boiled over among residents of the harrowed complex, who were told on Thursday they would need to leave for up to 10 days so a full-scale investigation could be conducted. Stephen Goddard, chairman of the Owners Corporation Network of Australia, said that, in his experience, the saga would drag on far longer.  "Welcome to the Gypsy life," he said. "It's going to continue for a very long time. If you think 10 days is it, you're out of your mind."
The Sydney Morning Herald
Angus Thompson

Labor to Reform Building Industry to Promote Better, Safer Homes

If elected in March, Labor will in its first term: Introduce a single piece of legislation, a standalone building act to strengthen regulations, improve consumer protections and transparency around people’s rights as well as raise professional standards; Establish a single agency, the NSW Building Authority, reporting to a single Minister to increase and streamline accountability of every person in the construction chain; Introduce chain of responsibility for everyone in the building process including for building products to permit product recalls, banning the use of non-conforming products, and empowering building inspections or audits; Prevent developers from being able to choose their own certifier to eradicate potential conflict of interest that has arisen between certifiers who are over dependent on developers whose work they are signing off on.

Ray Hadley Morning Show

2GB
John Stanley for Ray Hadley

Unit owners count cost of cracks in the system

Ross Taylor provides a vital perspective on building defects (‘‘Developers cutting costs cause defects’’, December 27). However, the misery and expense experienced by many new apartment owners must not be overlooked. All too often they find themselves facing huge additional costs they can’t afford. Their quality of life is degraded for far too long while the issues of ‘‘who pays’’ and implementing repairs are dealt with. It’s time for government action to address the issues raised by Taylor. - Philip Gall, Redfern (chairman, Owners Corporation Network)
The Sydney Morning Herald
Letters to the Editor

Opal Tower: 'Fridge buyers have better consumer protection than apartment buyers'

The cracked concrete slab in Sydney Olympic Park's Opal Tower – which triggered the second evacuation of residents in four days on Thursday – exposes a lack of protections for apartment buyers that must be resolved if rapidly urbanising Australia is going to become a high-rise nation. But for all the inconvenience, uncertainty and lost value for owners – not to mention tenants – of the 392 apartments in the tower completed only months earlier, they are still in a better position than most owners of problematic off-the-plan apartments with problems, who enjoy less consumer protection than the buyer of a fridge, said Stephen Goddard, a solicitor and the chairman of lobby group Owners Corporation Network of Australia. "Public confidence in strata living has been severely undermined," Mr Goddard told AFR Weekend. "It's time for governments to adopt a policy ensuring that people who buy off the plan have better consumer protection than they have when they buy a fridge. That's not what's happening now."
The Australian Financial Review
Michael Bleby

Pity the poor resident apartment owners at Sydney Olympic Park

Pity the poor resident apartment owners at Sydney Olympic Park. Not only do they find themselves saddled with a potentially defective asset and a mortgage but they discover their residential community is not that at all. Apparently, they share their 'modern' building with hoards of potentially illegal holiday makers courtesy of remote uncaring landlords and AirBnB.  So what next for the owners of this building? A protracted expensive legal claim on the builder and/or developer? And, if they are allowed to live in their new home at all, they will be living in a quasi hotel that they are responsible for keeping safe and well maintained. Sadly, the only response from Government is to make it harder on strata home owners by going soft on building standards and holiday letting in residential strata schemes. Philip Gall Chairman - Owners Corporation Network
SMH
Letters to the Editor

13 Places Cracking Down on Airbnb

While Airbnb lets travelers do some amazing things—from spending the night in Dublin's Guinness Storehouse to sleeping with sharks—not everyone is enthused about many of its variables, including turning apartments for residents into full time rentals and bringing a revolving door of travelers into previously residential buildings. As cities around the world enact regulations to keep vacation rentals' rapid growth in healthy check, here are 13 places cracking down on Airbnb—and what you need to know if you want to stay in one.
Conde Naste
Kagtherine Lagrave

Who are your strata saints and sinners for 2018?

It’s that time of year when Santa has to decide who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. And here in Flat Chat Central we were thinking, why should he have all the fun?  So we have decided to launch a poll on the 2018 heroes and villains in strata. Who do you think did most to make our lives better or worse in the year gone by? Last, but definitely not least, there are those doughty, determined volunteers at the Owners Corporation Network. They are under-funded, undermined and under-appreciated but they will take on the big end of town and global corporations alike, to fight for you and me.  
Flat-Chat
Jimmy Thomson

Prominent ACT developer facing court action over allegedly poor work

Prominent Canberra property developer Morris Construction Corporation is facing legal action over allegedly defective building work on a Kingston apartment block in the ACT Supreme Court. The owners corporation of the 120-unit apartment block, Kingston Place stage two on Eyre Street, took legal action against the firm in September last year, after first complaining to the ACT's building regulator in August 2016. It is understood the alleged defects range from structural cracking of the major concrete slab in the underground car park and water retention tank in the building's basement to poor workmanship on many of the development's balconies. But the firm is vigorously defending itself against the allegations in court, claiming the defects were not its fault, but may have been caused variously because of poor workmanship by the engineers, AWT [now owned by WSP], or the tiling firm on the balconies, Saba Bros.
The Canberra Times
Daniel Burdon

ACT building regulator to shine light on company histories

Access Canberra deputy director-general Dave Peffer this week told an Owners Corporation Network forum that the regulator was adopting a "far more aggressive approach" to investigating building non-compliance. He also revealed that a pre-Christmas audit blitz, which began in October, had already uncovered defects in documentation in a third of newly built properties where a certificate of occupancy had been issued. Mr Peffer told the forum that creating a "more educated buyer base" could improve the quality of new developments in the ACT.  "For us as a regulator, this is perhaps one of our most important tools for addressing poor quality buildings," he said.
The Canberra Times
Dan Jervis-Bardy

Sydney apartment owners face $12.5 million bill to remove flammable cladding

Hundreds of apartment owners in an inner-city development have been told they may have to cough up $45,000 each in special levies to cover the estimated $12.5 million cost of removing and replacing 10,000 square metres of potentially deadly flammable cladding. Residents of The Quay in Sydney’s Haymarket are mulling over whether to proceed with legal action in the Supreme Court of NSW against builder Parkview Constructions and Chinese developer Ausbao for a major defect claim. The NSW government in August this year declared combustible cladding a banned product, meaning it must be removed from any building on which it has been installed, often to the tune of millions of dollars.
News.com.au
Frank Chung

'Really dodgy set of circumstances': Owners' legal action over defects

Owners of the Elara apartments have revealed they contemplated selling the entire complex to be demolished and rebuilt, such was the scale of alleged defects in the building and their own frustration at roadblocks in securing compensation for an estimated $20 million damage bill. The revelation comes as the owners prepare for Federal Court action against the builders' insurance fund, which could end years of legal wrangling and building disputes over the controversial Bruce development.
The Canberra Times
Dan Jervis-Bardy

Housing Minister Warns Developers Losing Public Trust Would Be ‘Apocalyptic’

The NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts has warned the development industry that the consequences of losing public trust would be “apocalyptic” for the sector. In his address to the Housing Industry Association last week, Roberts said there was a profound “disconnect in the public mind” between what they think new buildings would look like, “versus the reality”. "It is impossible, utterly impossible, to build the apartments and houses of tomorrow if the public simply does not want them in their communities and towns,” Roberts said.
The Urban Developer
Dinah Lewis Boucher

Mixed-use regime needs urgent overhaul

Time is running out to establish a suitable regime for the proliferation of mixed-use developments across Canberra, says newly-elected president of the ACT branch of the Strata Community Association, Chris Miller. Mr Miller said the ACT Government had been dragging its feet on developing a new legislative framework for the growing number of developments that combine residential, commercial and retail uses, and the issue was at the top of his to-do list.  He will be engaging with major stakeholders, including the Owners Corporation Network, and knocking on the doors of Government.
The Riot Act
Ian Bushnell