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EMBARGOED UNTIL June 11, 2019 09:00 AM

VICTORIAN APARTMENT OWNERS STILL FACING COMBUSTIBLE CLADDING CRISIS

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Tuesday 11 June 2019

VICTORIAN APARTMENT OWNERS STILL FACING COMBUSTIBLE CLADDING CRISIS

STATE GOVERNMENT’S PLAN TO SPEND $160MILLION TO FIX 95 GOVERNMENT-OWNED CLADDED BUILDINGS OVER NEXT FOUR YEARS

PEAK STRATA BODY “HOPPING MAD”

The peak body representing the owners of thousands of apartment, unit and strata titled properties in Victoria is “hopping mad” that the State Government is using taxpayer money to selectively fix a cladding mess that it helped create.

The Victorian Government is being urged to provide additional funding for apartment owners after it announced that $160million will be spent to fix 95 government-owned cladded buildings over the next four years, yet no funds have been allocated to assist strata lot owners in this year’s state budget.

The state’s peak strata body is concerned the Victorian Government isn’t doing enough to support the many thousands of Victorians who live in the state’s 681 apartment buildings which have been constructed using combustible cladding.

Following the landmark decision by UK Prime Minister Theresa May last month to commit nearly AU$400million to remove and replace combustible aluminium cladding on apartment buildings, Strata Community Association (VIC) had hoped Australia would follow suit.

Strata Community Association (VIC), State President Peter Scott says, “The cladding crisis in Australia is more widespread than in the UK, due in part to a lack of government regulation on combustible cladding since the 1990’s.

“In Australia, thousands of medium and high-rise apartment buildings are covered in highly flammable cladding, compared to several hundred in the UK. The number of strata buildings classified as “high risk” is highest in the state of Victoria, with 681 buildings known to be affected.

“The State Government’s decision to exclude privately owned apartment buildings from cladding action in the state budget comes after Melbourne has witnessed three fires caused by combustible cladding in the last five years.

“The cost to fix combustible cladding is a million-dollar problem in Victoria. By excluding apartment buildings from the Cladding Rectification Fund, not only are Victorians forced to live in homes clad in dangerous materials, but they are expected to foot the bill, which can escalate to $60,000 per lot.

“As the Grenfell Tower tragedy demonstrated in 2017, if combustible cladding isn’t removed and replaced, the consequences can be deadly.”

Over the past 12 months, the Victorian Government has spent $5.2million to fix 22 government-owned buildings declared highest risk. At the same time, the Victorian Department of Education has already taken steps to remove and replace combustible cladding on low and medium-rise school buildings.

“We are urging the Victorian Government to assign the same level of priority to private dwellings. For many individual apartment owners, the cost of repairs is overwhelming, and the possibility of compensation is often futile.”

By way of some support, the State Government has established a scheme whereby councils can allow apartment owners to pay for rectification works over a period of 10 years as part of their municipal rates. However, no agreements have been struck to date.

“We applaud the action taken by the UK Government to pay to fix combustible cladding in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, which claimed 72 lives. However, we don’t want a similar situation to have to occur here before the Victorian Government takes action.

“It’s clear these tragedies can be prevented if combustible cladding is removed and replaced with safer alternatives. We ask the Victorian Government to commit to providing additional funding to apartment owners.”

ENDS

About Strata Community Association

Strata Community Association Limited (SCA) is the peak industry body for Body Corporate and Community Title Management in Australia & New Zealand. Membership includes body corporate managers, support staff, committee members and suppliers of products and services to the industry.SCA proudly fulfils the dual roles of a professional institute and consumer advocate.

SCA has in excess of 3,300 members who help oversee, advise or manage a combined property portfolio with an estimated replacement value of over $1.2 trillion. Website: http://stratacommunity.org.au/

(ENDS)

Contact Details

Pat McGuire
Marketplace Communications
0412 748161
Patrick.mcguire@mpc.com.au

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