Industry Issues takes a look at some of the biggest issues to affect strata communities over the past few months and provides some analysis and commentary for where they are headed next.
Building Defects and Cladding
With the tragic collapse of the Surfside Apartment Complex in the US state of Florida in June 2021, global attention to the issue of building defects has been renewed to an extent not observed since the 2017 Grenfell Tower Fire in London.
In an Australian context, recent high-profile examples of building defects such as the Mascot and Opal Tower evacuations have meant that the appetite for action by regulatory authorities is at a fever pitch. A considerable plurality of owners in these and other examples have effectively lost their homes or investments due to the presence of defects.
In New South Wales, the issue of building defects has remained front and centre, with notable examples such as the evacuation of the Imperial complex in Parramatta due to structural defects further driving the work the state’s Building Commissioner, David Chandler OAM, and the state government to address these issues.
In the ACT, the government recently announced their public cladding scheme. While welcomed, concerns remain about the level of reimbursement for assessment and the ability to insure once combustible cladding is detected.
SCA has continued their work in the advocacy space concerning future policy responses to the issue of building defects, including through the latter’s submission to the Victorian Building System Review in May 2021.
As the major capital cities continue to face COVID-19 lockdowns and a slower-than-expected vaccination rollout, the potential for common property areas, particularly enclosed areas to increase the potential of transmission, has become more readily apparent, as observed during the Southbank cluster in Melbourne, among others.
SCA has continually liaised with the departmental and ministerial contacts to address discrepancies in strata sector guidance where they have existed and brought about sensible reform to the regulations applicable to owners corporations and the strata sector as a whole, with regard to QR codes and COVIDSafe plans.
SCA has been proactive in driving sensible policy actions in the midst of the lockdown affecting Greater Sydney, through the publication of resources for owners corporations and strata managers concerning mask rules in common property areas.