News State New South Wales Mascot Towers owners demand repair costs, accuse state of certifying dodgy buildings

Mascot Towers owners demand repair costs, accuse state of certifying dodgy buildings

This week's discovery of fresh cracks follows months of disruption and expense for Mascot Towers residents. Photo: AAP
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Mascot Towers apartment owners have revealed more defects in the building which they say point to a failure in the government’s regulation of building standards.

Residents from 132-units were evacuated in June when cracks appeared and they have been forced to live elsewhere ever since – only allowed home to retrieve items.

In a submission to an inquiry starting Monday, a group representing the owners said there had been a “multitude of defects” over the past decade before the cracking emerged.

The litany of problems with the Sydney building included “lukewarm” water all year round, severe stormwater flooding and the incorrect use of electrical cables.

But the complex was passed for occupation despite these faults, the submission said.

The group blames the NSW government for a lax regulatory system which they said allowed defective buildings to achieve certification and offered consumers little protection.

The responsibility for repair costs should thus fall to government, it said.

“Buyers have more consumer protection buying a $1000 television than a million-dollar apartment,” the submission said.

The inquiry into the regulation of building standards, quality and disputes in NSW comes after a series of dramas at a number of buildings including Mascot Towers and Opal Tower at Olympic Park.

Cracks in Mascot Towers drove residents residents from their homes in June.

Mascot owners have been told they will have to foot the repair bill which could exceed $6million but they want the NSW government to cover the costs.

In its submission, the Mascot Towers Owners Corporation said owners and residents “relied on the ‘system’ to provide a satisfactory dwelling”, but the state government had failed to set a sufficiently tough regulatory framework for builders, certifiers and property developers.

This included the failure of the private building certification process, a lack of supervision over builders and the owners’ responsibility for defects.

“Our residents have inherited a building with numerous defects … defects which were originally signed off on by our government, engineers and certifiers as ‘within standards’.

“Somewhere along the lines, maximising profit has become a misinterpretation for ‘delivering quality’,” the submission said.

It also wanted the reintroduction of a Homeowners Warranty Insurance scheme for all levels of strata development, extension of the statutory warranty period and a statewide assistance package for cladding and defects.

The mandatory supervision of private certifiers was also recommended.

“The buck stops with the government. When it goes wrong, they need to put money back in to fix a system they’ve overseen,” the submission said.

One owner who made a submission said “bankruptcy may turn out to be the best option” for them due to liability for repairs to a devalued property.

“For the most part I have lived in a constant state of anxiety, with many sleepless nights,” the resident, whose name is suppressed, said.

“I have found it extremely hard to function at work.

“Trying to juggle my work with my current chaotic living situation and stress over my future has at times been overwhelming.”

Mascot Towers
Apartment owners are demanding the state government pay for repairs after signing off on faulty buildings.

Residents’ attempts to raise $1million through GoFundMe failed to hit the $6000 mark.

Their accommodation expenses are being subsidised by a one-off relief package offering $220 a night for one-bedroom owners, $300 a night for two-bedrooms and $400 a night for three bedrooms – for a three-month period.

The hearing on Monday will hear from 12 individuals in total, including Commissioner for Fair Trading Rose Webb, State Insurance Regulatory Authority chief executive Carmel Donnelly and Mascot Towers unit owners Vijay Vital and Alton Chen and strata committee member Terry Jones.

David Chandler, appointed this month as the inaugural NSW building commissioner, will start in his new role later this week.

-with AAP