With an increasing population in Sydney, high-rises are becoming the norm for future residential development. Despite offering obvious benefits, the high-density-living solution has several drawbacks for its residents. Specifically, there is the fear that inferior and sometimes dangerous products are often used in the construction of these buildings. According to studies undertaken by the University of NSW City Futures Research Centre, 85% of high-rises built in NSW since 2000 had some form of defects.
The recent Opal Tower crisis in Sydney Olympic Park stands in testament of these statistics. After only opening in August 2018, residents of the high-rise were evacuated on Christmas Eve because of a major structural defect.
The high-profile Opal failure exposes shortcomings in the Australian construction industry. Specifically, the lack of protections for consumers who occupy these buildings. As residents of the Opal building face an uncertain future, the question remains: what can you do if the apartment building you live in is deemed unsafe or defective?
Are you an owner?
Under NSW Law, owners have a right to pursue the developer and the builder for rectification of a building’s defects. However, owners are only protected under this warranty scheme where the building is less than six years old. Owners wishing to hold builders and developers liable for projects older than six years are encouraged to seek legal advice.
Are you on a lease?
Where a rental property is defective, tenants in NSW have a statutory right to terminate their lease without incurring extra costs. Tenants might also be able to receive alternate compensation or have their rent waived or reduced. Although, compensation is a difficult avenue of redress for tenants, as it is not explicitly regulated by the Residential Tenancy Act.
Are you a guest?
Those staying in short-term rental accommodation could also be protected under Australian Consumer Law. It is a requirement under the Australian Consumer Law that the goods or services provided to consumers be reasonably fit for a particular purpose. In the event that a short-term rental accommodation becomes unliveable, that property can no longer serve as a place of enjoyment for the tenant. In this case, the host as failed to provide goods and services as promised and the consumer could make claims on the trade.
If the building you are in is defective, or have any queries relating to the issues featured in this article, please do not hesitate to contact us on 02 8917 8700 or fill out the enquiry box and we will get back to you ASAP.