Home owner rights still strong, despite building reforms: NSW Fair Trading

Home owner rights still strong, despite building reforms: NSW Fair Trading
Home owner rights still strong, despite building reforms: NSW Fair Trading

Home owners won't lose protections and rights when new home building reforms come in, NSW Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox has claimed.

His reassurance comes after a recent court decision in favour of Brookfield Multiplex in a case regarding commercial property. The High Court's ruled that Brookfield Mutliplex was not liable for alleged building defects in a commercial development was a complex and technical decision,

According to Mason-Cox, the owners corporation deemed not vulnerable in legal terms, with no duty of care from Brookfield Multiplex to a commercial property owners corporation.

"I have obtained legal advice from the Crown Solicitor's Office that confirms the decision does not affect the consumer protections offered by the state's home building legislation,'' Mason-Cox said.

"This case refers to the law of negligence and involved a commercial development.

"The case does not affect the separate NSW statutory scheme of a residential development.

"Consumers continue to enjoy all the protections afforded to them by home building laws, including the statutory warranty scheme. Any suggestions to the contrary are simply false.''

A number of reforms relating to home owner rights have been passed in the Home Building Amendment Act 2014.

Some claim the reforms will degrade consumers' rights when their building is found to be defective, with a government-granted six-year warranty for "structural defects" now applicable only for "major defects".

However, Mason-Cox says the amendments "provide significant protection for consumers and offer clarity about rights and responsibilities of builder's liabilities, particularly in relation to defects".

"The Home Building Amendment Act 2014 was passed by Parliament in May and is expected to start in mid-January," said Mason-Cox.

"Under the new Act, if a strata scheme discovers a major defect up to six years after the building has been built, then they can pursue their builder under the statutory warranties in the Act to rectify that defect.

"In particular, our reforms ensure that all home owners continue to have the benefit of a six year warranty for major defects and two years for minor defects."

Fire safety and waterproofing will be considered "major elements" of a building under the changes.

"By clarifying the nature of major defects, this key reform will save owners, and owners corporations, tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs incurred in protracted litigation," claimed Mason-Cox.

"We are also introducing changes to the licensing system, making it harder for unscrupulous builders to illegally 'phoenix', which is where a failed company starts up under a new or similar name to avoid scrutiny by consumers or NSW Fair Trading."

Individuals who were once involved in companies closed by their directors to avoid their obligations will now risk having their licence applications denied or their licenses revoked.

New South Wales Legal


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