Fixing combustible cladding will require technical skills and understanding beyond some owners corporations – especially in smaller buildings – and could prompt a rethink about the best way to manage housing stock, Victoria’s cladding tsar Dan O’Brien says. 40 per cent of the 406 structures deemed “high risk” to date were three storeys or below, Mr O’Brien told a property industry audience last week.

The lack of sophistication of owners corporations, particularly on smaller buildings, would require Cladding Safety Victoria, the rectification agency Mr O’Brien heads, to boost the level of support it offered those owners’ groups, he said. “We’re going to go on a bit of a journey and it will test whether the owners corporation model is the right model to manage buildings in some instances. We’ve got to work through that.” Mr O’Brien said. “It’s been a perfectly fine model since 1961,” said Karen Stiles, the executive officer of Owners Corporation Network, a NSW-based advocacy group that also has members in Queensland and Victoria.

Ms Stiles said the cladding crisis was a failure by state and federal governments and the responsibility for fixing buildings lay with them, rather than owners corporations. “They’re set up to deal with the sort of things small schemes would have to deal with – repairs and maintenance, organising the lawn guy,” she said. “They’re not set up for something extreme like cladding rectification where government can’t even tell them what’s compliant.”

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Michael Bleby