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Buyer Beware Part 3 of 3

Hidden Danger - Owners of apartments affected by the cladding crisis in Victoria have told of the emotional toll it has taken on them.
ABC 7.30 Report
Tracy Bowden

'Lifting the standards': NSW government unveils reforms to construction industry

Homeowners who buy defective apartments will have an easier path to pursue damages under the Berejiklian government's response to widespread problems in high-rise residential buildings. The long-anticipated building reforms, released on Wednesday, will also create a new registration system for the industry, while developers will be forced to comply with "declared" building designs. But the reforms will only apply to buildings yet to be constructed.  The Owners Corporation Network is 1.  "Very happy" that the Bill takes the first critical step towards delivering higher building standards (we are still to read the final Bill), but 2.  continues to call for no or low interest loans for owners currently struggling with crippling defects.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Lisa Visentin and Megan Gorrey and Carrie Fellner

Apartment owners fear for 'suicidal' neighbours as combustible cladding crisis takes its toll

Key points: Apartment owners affected by combustible cladding are experiencing financial stress Some apartments have been deemed almost uninsurable or the owners have seen massive increases in premiums There are concerns some affected owners may be suicidal Owners of apartments affected by the cladding crisis in Victoria have told researchers of the emotional toll it has taken on them. To cope with the financial stress, some owners have delayed their retirement, while others have borrowed money to cover massive increases in insurance premiums. Others have told of their concerns for neighbours who may be at risk of suicide because of the impact of the issue. The information comes from research undertaken by the RMIT's School of Property, Construction and Project Management, conducted by Dr Trivess Moore and Dr David Oswald. "There is information emerging about the scale of the potential financial costs of combustible cladding," Dr Moore told 7.30. "But what we haven't yet heard is the social impact. "It's not just the financial effect we need to address — we need to bring the voices of the people impacted and their lived experience into this discussion.
ABC News
Tracy Bowden and Kirsten Robb

Buyer Beware Part 2 of 3

Fault Lines ... In a complex building industry, who is to blame when things go wrong? Barnaby Joyce caused a stir by suggesting farmers who've struggled for decades to make a profit should "seriously think what are you doing with your life".
ABC 7.30 Report
Tracy Bowden

Buyer Beware Part 1 of 3

Shaky confidence in the capital city apartment market is hitting off-the-plan buyers hard, with a significant rise in the number of newly constructed units now worth less at completion than the price they were purchased for.
ABC 7.30 Report
Tracy Bowden

Majority of off-the-plan apartments worth less than purchase price, data shows

Shaky confidence in the capital city apartment market is hitting off-the-plan buyers hard, with a significant rise in the number of newly constructed units now worth less at completion than the price they were originally purchased for. 7.30 can reveal that 60 per cent of off-the-plan apartments in Sydney, and 52.9 per cent in Melbourne, were valued lower than their contract price at the time of settlement. In Queensland, 43.1 per cent of units were worth less at settlement than what they were purchased for, and in Western Australia it was 22.5 per cent of apartments. CoreLogic's head of research, Tim Lawless, said there had been a significant oversupply in the high-rise sector, with supply substantially outpacing demand. But he said concerns around construction quality, remediation costs and flammable cladding had had a compounding effect.
ABC 7.30 Report
Tracy Bowden and Kirsten Robb

Territory apartment owners demand time limits on building caretaker contracts

Laws that allow property developers to appoint their relatives to long-term building caretaker contracts should be changed to better protect unit owners in the NT, the Owners Corporation Network says. It comes after residents in a Darwin apartment complex raised concerns that a company owned by the wife of the building's developer was contracted to oversee cleaning, maintenance and repairs for $120,000 per year for 25 years. Under the Northern Territory's Unit Title Scheme Act, such caretaking agreements are permitted because there are no time limits on contracts or disclosure requirements to outline personal connections between the parties.
ABC News
Jano Gibson

Insurers warn Airbnb hosts may not be covered

Insurers have warned 140,000 property owners planning short-term rentals this summer that their home and contents insurance was unlikely to cover “potentially catastrophic” losses. In addition, most insurers regarded short-stay holiday rentals, on platforms such as Airbnb, Stayz, Homeaway, Flipkey and booking.com, as a commercial use of property, which means owners needed to pay for specialist cover. “Otherwise damage or a public liability claim could cost homeowners hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Insurance Council spokeswoman Lisa Kable. ATO data matching action Landlords also faced extra attention from tax authorities, which are analysing detailed information of 190,000 clients provided by rental platforms. Tax Office officials said the first round of letters will be sent to house and apartment owners during the next few weeks asking them to review their return and the income they earned.
The Australian Financial Review
Duncan Hughes

Queensland Short Term Letting Win!

In considering the appeal against the Body Corporate Commissioner's adjudicatino, the QCAT Magistrate found: 1. The power to make the by-law prohibiting short term letting exists. It does not prohibit but merely regulates. 2. It is also very difficult to see how a by-law which is lawful in terms approved by the Privy Council and which has the lawful effect it seeks to achieve could ever be objectively unreasonable. It is hard to see how a 75% majority can be said to be oppressive when they simply exercise the powers the legislature has given them for a legitimate purpose. 3. The by-law is not misguided (even if that is a reason going to validity). It addresses concerns about nuisance by requiring only residential use. It relaxes that for any written letting over 30 days. It may be aimed at preventing short-term occupants because they are perceived as more likely to generate nuisances and be harder to regulate but the Privy Council has held that is not an inappropriate response. 4. I have held that short-term letting is not a residential activity within the context of these by-laws. 5. What a planning scheme or scheme of development permits in the abstract is irrelevant. What is relevant is what has been built and what that BC has decided to pass. This judgement is open to appeal, but the arguments by the Magistrate are very solid and take an holistic view of the body corporate legislation and landscape.

Mascot Towers engineers find new cracks and warn urgent repairs needed to avoid 'structural failure'

In the latest update on the troubled apartment block, law firm Mills Oakley, acting on behalf of the owners corporation, said engineers had found cracking around the north-eastern transfer beams and the basement was of "significant concern". The report also suggests waterproofing systems used to excavate the basement levels of the new neighbouring Peak Towers construction "likely caused the erosion of fine particles and the destabilisation of land supporting Mascot Towers". Apartment owner Brian Tucker said it was another blow on top of huge levies owners were already being asked to pay, and called on the State Government to provide more financial support through a low-interest loan.
ABC News
Antonette Collins

Tenants lured with big bucks to sub-let properties on Airbnb

The prospect of six-figure earnings is being used to lure rent-investors into sub-letting multiple residential properties through holiday letting websites like Airbnb – without owning any of the homes or even, possibly, the knowledge of the property owners. “How we make a six-figure income on Airbnb using other people’s properties… and how you can too!” announces a website featuring Nicole and Aaron Byerlee, the property power couple behind BnBProfessional, just one of several companies spruiking rent and sub-let seminars. Online videos show pumped-up participants giving rock-star receptions to the rent and sub-let promoters. The potential profits are very real. Research into Airbnb’s online listings has uncovered several “hosts” each with hundreds of properties under their management, with even greater numbers listed on as many as 50 niche websites. The NSW government is currently considering an “industry-led” register of holiday lets, and many see this as the best way to curb the commercial conversion of residential lets as short term rentals. “Without a reliable, independent registry, there is no way property investors can be sure their homes aren’t being used for holiday lets,’ said Jane Hearn, Deputy Chair of the Owners Corporation Network, the peak group for apartment owners in NSW.
Flat-Chat
Jimmy Thomson

Balcony panel of Melbourne high-rise apartment suddenly shatters

Residents of a Melbourne apartment got a fright when a glass balcony facade suddenly shattered, sending a shower of fragments to the footpath far below. The incident at Epic Apartments in Southbank sparked a council investigation into whether the imported glass is putting lives at risk.  Pieces of glass fell 30 floors to the footpath, posing a safety danger.
7 News
Paul Dowsley

Airbnb moguls spruik how to get around the rules

The prospect of six-figure earnings is being used to lure tenants and investors into subletting properties via websites such as Airbnb – without owning any of the homes or, in some cases, the knowledge of the property owners. The potential profits are very real. Research into Airbnb’s online listings has uncovered several “hosts” each with hundreds of properties under their management, with even greater numbers listed on as many as 50 niche websites. The NSW government is considering an “industry-led” register of holiday lets, and many see this as the best way to curb the commercial conversion of residential lets as short term rentals. “Without a reliable, independent registry, there is no way property investors can be sure their homes aren’t being used for holiday lets," said Jane Hearn, deputy chairman of the Owners Corporation Network, the peak group for apartment owners in NSW.
The Australian Financial Review
Jimmy Thomson

Airbnb sent urgent warning of massive tax crackdown from ATO

Airbnb isn't just a hobby, it's a business. That's the message from the Australian Taxation Office to those who use the popular home-sharing service to lease out their properties. Airbnb sent an email out to its Australian members on Thursday night, warning that their personal details - names, addresses and emails - would be given to the ATO.
7 News
Monique Dirkz

Mascot Towers residents given two 'very bad' options after building failure

Residents of the evacuated Mascot Towers are being forced to consider two options to fund urgent remediation works at the 132-unit complex, but fear they won't be able to afford either. At an annual general meeting later this month, apartment owners will be given the option to proceed with a multimillion-dollar special levy or rescind it in favour of a commercial strata loan to fix the building. One resident, who did not want to be named, said "the options presented to us as owners are like choosing a preferred execution method".
The Sydney Morning Herald
Laura Chung

What Members Say

"The whole strata community owes a huge debt of gratitude to you and the OCN executive. Much appreciated."

Robert, Darlinghurst

"I am very pleased with my membership of OCN, the discussions through sharing emails is very valuable in increasing my knowledge of strata living, the laws and EC responsibilities. I think I am better armed to tread the minefield of the managing agent responsibilities and the necessary action of the EC to monitor the contradictory interests of the agent."

Jim, Wollstonecraft

"I so appreciate being part of the OCN email forum. It provides a great opportunity for sharing ideas and learning"

Ingrid, Neutral Bay

"I must say that I have enjoyed and found consolation in the discussions that have been part of the email chain (forum). I did attend one general meeting and found that it was informative and the people "running the show" were knowledgeable and dedicated to the tasks that had taken on. In short, well done. You and the committee have and continue to support the Strata Community in a very professional manner."

Greg, Parramatta

"Nothing is easy in Strata World and we have been in building defects “mode” for some years – hopefully almost at an end but that process has been most demanding and difficult but again – greatly helped by the experience and wise counsel of other members of OCN."

Pat, St Leonards

"Keep up the good work, as many (if not most) strata schemes need your help, advice and representation at all levels of government."

Jann and John, St Ives

"I belong to OCN because of its professionalism.  I have found the meetings I have been to extremely well presented, to the point, and of course very topical and informative. Speakers on the whole certainly know their topic.  My role of Secretary last year was certainly assisted with the coverage regarding TPG & other subjects. Member newsletters are also of benefit as the topics are specific to strata matters."

Graham, East Balmain

I have enjoyed attending the quarterly OCN meetings and the exchange of emails between other Executive Committee Members and think OCN is playing an increasingly important role as a voice for strata dwellers and representing us at Government level. I wish the organisation continuing success in the future."

Pauline, Kings Cross

"The [forum] response to my question was amazing and really useful.  The OCN community is wonderful so thanks."

Jenny, Killara

"I would like to thank you all for the important effort that you are all putting in to look after apartment owners and tenants. It is so valuable and you are heroes. I would not have been able to deal with my duties as a strata chairman without your advice and assistance." 

Angela, Mascot

"The OCN is invaluable – many thanks."

Bill, Surry Hills

"OCN is proving invaluable"

Sue, Neutral Bay

"Thanks to all at OCN for your continuing efforts to keep us up to date with current strata information and advice...it has been very helpful to us"

Kate, Coogee

"When my wife & I first encountered a problematic Executive Committee I heard that OCN was a great help (from a Strata manager whom I knew) so we both joined and have gratefully used the on-line information sources. We continued to happily rely on OCN’s assistance when we progressed to Committee status & later as Chair & Secretary of our Committee. I still use OCN in my current role as Treasurer."

Peter, Chiswick

"Thanks to OCN for being such a rich resource of trustworthy information about strata matters."

Peter, Chiswick

"I wanted to extend my personal thanks for the very informative & interesting event today. The OCN team did an outstanding job in the organisation of this event & I enjoyed it thoroughly. The quality of speakers, the flow of conversation & interaction from the attendees - first class …& of course, the amazing Jimmy T - always a delight."

Sue, Epping

"OCN does a great job in providing a really valuable service to Strata owners."

Lois, Wollongong

"I am sure my appreciation of your good works is echoed by many in the Stratasphere. Keep up the good work."

John, Elizabeth Bay

"The OCN is probably one of the best, most informed and most informative groups I have been involved with."

Alan, Maryville

"Once again, being able to discuss such things through this forum, helps clear the mind, puts things into perspective and helps one to understand their rights and to form a strategy if needs be. As a simple EC member trying to do what is in the best interests of lot owners, I truly value OCN and am grateful."

Pamela, Point Lookout