A collaboration between researchers from UNSW Sydney’s City Futures Research Centre and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has resulted in the development of a new consumer-friendly guide that will help strata property owners and managers navigate the complex process of dealing with defects in apartment buildings.

This useful guide complements the reforms introduced by the NSW Government to the multi-billion-dollar apartment building sector following the Opal Tower problem. Available online, this step-by-step tool, ‘Strata Defects Rectification Guide’ was developed in partnership with Strata Community Association (NSW), the peak strata industry body in New South Wales representing the interests of all strata industry stakeholders. Property owners and strata managers can use this guide to identify, document, report and rectify building defects in strata schemes.

“It’s an informative guide to support strata property owners and purchasers worried about whether there are defects in an apartment building, and for owners who need more information on how to rectify defects in their strata scheme,” says Dr Laura Crommelin, senior lecturer at UNSW City Futures Research Centre.

“It will help owners to know what they should be thinking about, who they should be talking to, what sort of risks they should be looking at, as well as how to find out who is responsible for existing building defects. It can be hard for owners to find all the information they need to deal with defects – this guide is a tool that helps buyers and owners navigate that information asymmetry.

“It’s essential that we build better buildings in future, and that we also support owners and residents in buildings that already have defect problems or will find they have issues in the years ahead. Defects can take time to become apparent, and owners need to be proactive in dealing with them,” Dr Crommelin explained.

Describing the guide as a game-changer, Strata Community Association (NSW) president Chris Duggan said, “With the state’s reforms and the Building Commissioner reshaping construction quality, this guide complements the retrospective effort of the strata industry in educating managers and assists consumers to deal with the practical realities of defects.”

He added that the collaborative work of SCA (NSW), UNSW and UTS was of critical importance to better address a systemic issue impacting strata schemes in NSW, with a far-reaching and profound impact on those residing in strata properties.

According to Martin Loosemore, professor of construction management at UTS, defects in apartment buildings have been a concern in NSW for many years and more will be affected in the future.

Dr Crommelin explained that the guide will be useful at all stages throughout the process of defect rectification, from the initial discovery of potential issues through to getting them fixed.

While the guide focuses on defects in common property areas such as hallways and courtyards, it also covers all levels of defects and their severity.

Though the guide is designed to assist current and potential strata apartment owners, even renters could use it for greater clarity on rights and responsibilities. Since the guide highlights the obligations of apartment owners to ensure that the building is in good condition, tenants could use it as a resource during discussions with their landlords.

“Ultimately, there’s a benefit for everyone involved in understanding their obligations better,” Dr Crommelin concluded.

View the Strata Defects Rectification Guide.

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