The owners of apartments in an inner-city Sydney building may each have to pay $45,000 in special levies to cover the $12.5 million cost of replacing flammable cladding on the building.
The Quay apartment building, which is located in Haymarket, was identified by the NSW Government’s Cladding Taskforce as ‘high risk’.
Now owners are unsure if the costs of removed the cladding will be covered by the developer, because even though new laws have banned the use of flammable cladding, it’s not clear if those laws apply retrospectively.
Owners have held an extraordinary meeting to decide whether or not to proceed with legal action, according to reports.
The Owners Corporation has issued a notice to owners saying they have recently received expert advice that the cladding installed on the external facade of the building is combustible.
” The notice requests residents “refrain from undertaking any activities within proximity to the external cladding of the building that may cause or increase the risk of a fire.”
London’s deadly Grenfell fire prompts global review of cladding
State governments around Australia have embarked on a program to improve fire safety in high rises buildings, after 72 people died in London’s Grenfell fire disaster last year.
Investigations into the Grenfell fire found flammable cladding on the building caused the fire to spread extremely quickly.
In NSW, government has audited 185,000 buildings for flammable classing, and inspected 2,300, identifying 435 buildings as ‘high risk’.
Flammable cladding now deemed a ‘major defect’
In April 2018, the NSW Government introduced new news that make flammable cladding a ‘major defect’.
The laws protect owners of new properties with ‘major defects’ for up to six years after construction finishes.
However, it’s still unclear who is responsible for recovering the costs of removing flammable cladding from buildings when the cladding was installed prior to the new laws coming in.
Buildings built more than six years before the new laws came in, or before August 2012, have no legal recourse.
The Victorian government has offered owners a low-interest loan scheme to help cover the costs associated with removing flammable cladding, but no similar program exists in NSW.
The NSW Government has also introduced new requirements for buildings, including:
- Sprinklers for buildings over 25 metres high,
- Pressurised fire escape for buildings over 25 metres high, and
- Wet-rise style fire hydrants that contain pressurised water (Grenfell had dry-rise fire hydrants that became clogged with rubbish).