Vic govt will go after builders on behalf of owners

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VICTORIA’S state government will pursue builders of apartments covered in combustible cladding and cover rectification costs on behalf the owners.

The Building Amendment (Cladding Rectification) Bill 2019 was introduced to Parliament yesterday and includes a provision to allow the state to chase wrongdoers through the courts, in cases where the state pays for rectification costs.

Any financial returns will be reinvested into the $600 million, five year cladding rectification program announced in July, to be overseen by the newly created state government agency Cladding Safety Victoria.

The package made Victoria the first jurisdiction in Australia to introduce a rectification scheme and only the second globally after the United Kingdom.

“We’re saving owners the time, hassle and expense of chasing dodgy builders through the courts,” Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne said.

“These apartment owners find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own. They shouldn’t have to deal with the cost and stress that court action can mean – so we’re pursuing wrongdoers on their behalf.”

Apartment owners affected by combustible cladding will still be able to take legal action against builders for other building defects.

The legislation also introduces the previously announced building levy that will fund $300 million of the program after the federal government declined to match Victoria’s contribution.

“Combustible cladding is a national problem and we’re disappointed the Commonwealth government has decided not to be part of the solution here in Victoria,” Minister Wynne said yesterday.

The levy applies to new permits for multi storey buildings valued at more than $800,000, and excludes single dwellings, developments in regional Victoria and schools and hospitals.

Other projects, such as social housing, may also be exempt.

The Victorian Building Authority has suspended two builders and surveyors over the installation of non-compliant cladding, and has issued nine show cause notices.

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