After a year-long investigation, NSW Fair Trading has banned a private Certifier who signed off on a Sydney apartment complex described by the state’s Building Commissioner as ‘probably the worst’ he has ever inspected.
Jason Storer, a Certifier at AED Group, has been disqualified from registration by the authority for 12 months, due to approving and issuing interim occupation certificates for a two-tower development located at Auburn. Storer allegedly gave out three certificates giving residents the green light to move in, when lifts in the towers were incomplete and therefore were a threat to the health and safety of residents.
The supplying of the certificates meant the project’s developer, Merhis, reached out to future residents to settle on their purchases and move to the Auburn precinct. The development, named Aya Eliza, comprises 251 apartments with the towers fronting Auburn Road and Harrow Road respectively.
After residents moved into their apartments in 2019, it was discovered that the complex contained a number of fire hazards and defects, including poor waterproofing which has not been remedied. NSW Building Commissioner, David Chandler, would describe the building as “probably the worst” he had seen to be given approval, and believed the government had to intervene in order to ensure the safety of residents.
Storer, who is currently appealing the ban, says he is disappointed in the decision made by NSW Fair Trading, given his previous 18 years as a certifier in which his track record was ‘excellent’. He also says there was no evidence of any intention to mislead customers for personal gain.
“I disagree with the premise of the findings as well as the outcome and have already appealed this decision to NCAT. Fire and Rescue NSW had inspected the site and raised no issues or concerns with the provision of the single lift per tower,” he says in a statement.
“As an accredited certifier, it is my role to rely on experts such as Fire and Rescue NSW to enable the issue of an interim occupancy certificate.”
A Fair Trading NSW spokeswoman says if or when Storer decides to re-register as a Certifier that he must prove he holds the skillset required to be recognised as a Certifier or Surveyor.
“Should Mr Storer intend to re-register once the disqualification period is over, he would need to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the secretary of the Department of Customer Service that he has the sufficient skill set and diligence to certify buildings safely in this state,” she says.
Fair Trading has recently audited 11 of the state’s Certifiers that are linked to 68 buildings under construction that contain the highest number of defects. Those who fail the audits will be named and sanctioned, and could potentially be forced to pay fines and be required to have an independent third party check their work.
Storer is currently appealing in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to have the ban overthrown. The Certifier has additionally lodged an application in an attempt to stop the disqualification and cancellation of his registration, which is due to take effect on 2 November 2021.