Today the NSW Government proposed amendments to the Design & Building Practitioners Bill 2019 currently being considered by the NSW Parliament. These amendments begin the vital process of providing much improved consumer protection for people buying new apartments. They also improve the overall operation of the Bill in better regulating the NSW building industry.
For these reasons the revised Bill has the support of the Owners Corporation Network (OCN), the organisation representing apartment owners. The Government deserves credit for proposing amendments in response to concerns raised with the original Bill.
“The Statutory Duty of Care proposals, in their revised form, more effectively deliver on promises made by Government before the State election and are most welcome” according to OCN Chairman, Philip Gall. “They restore some much needed building industry accountability to its consumers to the benefit of tens of thousands of new apartment owners” he says.
OCN recognises that this Bill is just the beginning and there is much more work to be done to clean up the deeply ingrained issues with new apartment construction. “For example, $2 companies disappearing before building defects are rectified is still a big problem” Gall observes. “The effectiveness of the new legislation depends on the yet to be drafted regulations” he adds.
The Owners Corporation Network has also been pressing for known loopholes in the building defect warranties offered under the Home Building Act to be closed. According to Gall “OCN is disappointed the opportunity to restore this aspect of consumer protection has been missed this time around. However, this disappointment is tempered by the Government’s public commitment today to address shortcomings in statutory warranties soon”.
OCN continues to urge caution when buying new apartments, particularly apartments off the plan, and those over three levels where there is no compulsory home owner warranty insurance. “In time we want building quality to improve and have robust financial entities, such as insurance companies, stand behind world class warranties provided to all new apartment owners” Gall says.