News | Owners Corporation Network


Mascot Towers residents given two 'very bad' options after building failure

Residents of the evacuated Mascot Towers are being forced to consider two options to fund urgent remediation works at the 132-unit complex, but fear they won't be able to afford either. At an annual general meeting later this month, apartment owners will be given the option to proceed with a multimillion-dollar special levy or rescind it in favour of a commercial strata loan to fix the building. One resident, who did not want to be named, said "the options presented to us as owners are like choosing a preferred execution method".
The Sydney Morning Herald
Laura Chung

Balcony safety fears for more apartments linked to Opal Tower builder

The company that built Sydney’s Opal Tower is embroiled in another safety scare at a different city apartment block. Residents of Otto Rosebery have been warned against leaning on their balconies or allowing more than three people to stand on them, after an investigation found the balustrades were of “inadequate strength”. Parents have been warned not to let children play on balconies. Labor MP for Heffron Ron Hoenig said it was shocking that an apartment block could be built with non-compliant balconies. “How does a building get constructed where there is something wrong with the balustrade and something wrong with the weight you can put on balconies?” Mr Hoenig asked The New Daily. “This is just the tip of the iceberg … the whole building industry, particularly in New South Wales, is in crisis.” Mr Hoenig said the cracks in Australia’s construction industry ran so deep that only a royal commission could begin to fix them.
The New Daily
Euan Black

SOPA blasted for delaying Opal Tower return for another Christmas

Homeowners in troubled Opal Towers could miss another Christmas in the building because of preventable remediation delays, the new NSW building commissioner has said. Taking aim at the Sydney Olympic Authority, David Chandler accused the original landowners of not intervening with developers in the interests of owners. He also rebuked the builders, developers and the government for delays in getting tenants back in the building. In a strongly-worded letter to SOPA last week, Mr Chandler chastised SOPA for failing to step in over a commercial conflict and unpaid compensation at a ground floor retail shop owned by developer Ecove. The stalemate has led to a halt in remediation works.
The Australian Financial Review
Su-Lin Tan

NSW government drags Icon and Ecove into Opal Tower class action

The NSW government's Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) has dragged Opal Tower builder Icon and developer Ecove into the multi-million-dollar class action for compensation over the failed building. In July, owners launched the lawsuit against SOPA, the owner of the land on which Opal Tower sits, but have had to wait for the case to be heard before the NSW Supreme Court as SOPA launched cross claims against Icon and Ecove. Nine months since the tower was evacuated on Christmas Eve over cracking sounds, not only are owners still in limbo over compensation but many have not yet moved back to their units or been paid promised reimbursements for alternative accommodation.
The Australian Financial Review
Su-Lin Tan

NSW releases draft rules to register certifiers

The NSW government has released more draft regulation to tighten rules for private certifiers, days after engineers said new rules for their registration did not go far enough. These latest steps are part of sweeping reforms following building failures in Sydney such as Opal Tower and Mascot Towers that are causing buyers to shun apartments, an effect that may slow the recovery in the housing cycle. Housing industry leaders at last week's The Australian Financial Review Property Summit 2019 aired their concerns about the values of apartments and buyer interest since the building defects came to light.
The Australian Financial Review
Su-Lin Tan

NSW releases draft rules to register certifiers

The NSW government has released more draft regulation to tighten rules for private certifiers, days after engineers said new rules for their registration did not go far enough. The new Building and Development Certifiers Regulation 2019 provides administrative detail for its similarly named legislation and will prescribe qualifications, skills and experience necessary for certifier registration. It also will clarify the responsibilities of certifiers with a view to restoring consumer confidence in development, particularly housing. These latest steps are part of sweeping reforms following building failures in Sydney such as Opal Tower and Mascot Towers that are causing buyers to shun apartments.
The Australian Financial Review
Su-Lin Tan

Airbnb faces new clampdown in push to regulate short-stay accommodation

At least 20,000 short-term rental properties in WA would be forced to register their details as part of a mandatory scheme designed to level the playing field with other accommodation providers and give peace of mind to consumers. A parliamentary inquiry by the Economics and Industry Standing Committee was set up amid rising tension between owners of licensed short-stay businesses and unlicensed operators who advertise through websites such as Airbnb. Its report tabled in State Parliament today found WA had experienced a rapid growth in short-term rentals, with at least 20,000 listings available in the state. But local governments, which are responsible for regulating short-terms rentals, have struggled to address many of the issues associated with the growth and to enforce compliance because of difficulties with locating those breaking the rules.
ABC News
Alisha O'Flaherty

Icon offers settlement to fend off Opal Tower class action

Opal Tower builder Icon has attempted to "settle" owners quietly in anticipation of possibly being drawn in as a party in the beleaguered tower's upcoming class action hearing. The move was slammed by owners who called it a "sneaky" approach to escape liability in the face of formal legal action and a "slap in the face" because Icon had only offered to refund tenants' accommodation bills rather than pay any compensation.
The Australian Financial Review
Su-Lin Tan

Apartment oversupply and construction defects give lenders pause for thought

Apartment buyers could be forced to stump up higher deposits as nervous lenders consider tightening mortgage restrictions due to Sydney's oversupply of apartments and fears about building defects.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Josh Dye

Greens say ACT government should audit privately-owned buildings for flammable cladding

The ACT Greens say the government should consider auditing Canberra's apartment buildings for potentially dangerous flammable cladding. The government launched an audit of territory-owned buildings in July 2017, weeks after the deadly Grenfell Tower fire in London put the global spotlight on the use of aluminum and polyethylene cladding. But the ACT government isn't inspecting privately-owned buildings, relying instead on insurance companies to pass on information about the presence of non-compliant cladding material. The Owners Corporation Network have been urging the government to extend its audit beyond government buildings, arguing high-rise apartment blocks posed the greatest safety risk.  
The Canberra Times
Dan Jervis-Bardy

Cladding bill tabled in Senate as fake “fire resistant” imports found in Victoria

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick has reintroduced a bill into the Senate that would ban the importation of all flammable cladding into Australia. The move - opposed by the federal government and the Australian Sign & Graphics Association (ASGA) - comes days after the discovery in Victoria of counterfeit flammable cladding - said to be imported from China - with stickers attached falsely declaring it to be fire resistant. Senator Patrick said that while he recognised flammable cladding could be used safely in signage, “in the context of failed policy across the states, the costs to businesses is worth it.”
Wide Format News
Graham Osborne

From the Forum: Airbnb budget by-law and four reno posers

We’re taking moment before our Forum questions this week to urge you not to miss the opportunity to get a cut-price, off-the-peg by-law to prevent Airbnb and other short-term holiday letting coming into your building. Be aware, the way things are shaping up, apartment blocks in NSW that don’t have holiday let bans in place could end up worse off than those in Victoria, where more than one-third of units in some blocks are listed as holiday lets. There are already workshops and seminars out there where owners and even tenants are being advised on how to set up multiple holiday rentals, and get around the new laws. And you can bet some of them are being advised on how to get into blocks that don’t have the necessary by-laws in place before the shutters come down. Now there’s no need for your committee to spend ages weighing up the cost of a by-law.  All you have to do is join the Owners Corporation Network (for a measly $55), if you haven’t already done so. Then you can buy their off-the-peg by-law, written by an expert strata lawyer, for only about $200. Similar by-laws could cost you $1,000 or more from some law firms, and not having one could see your block turned into a de facto hotel when the the full impact (or lack of any) of the new holiday letting laws come into force. Go to for more details
Jimmy Thomson

RMIT Flammable Cladding Study - Calling for Interviewees

RMIT academics Drs Simon Lockrey, Trivess Moore and David Oswald are researching the impact to households living in apartments with flammable cladding.   If you are an owner of property with combustible cladding; and/or you have insights about what owners of property affected by combustible cladding face day to day across Australia they want to hear from you! The researchers want to hear about the scale of the problems you face day to day. This research involves a 30-60 minute audio-recorded in-person or telephone interview where they will ask you a range of open-ended questions. Your answers will form the basis of range of peer reviewed reports, journal articles, conference paper/s and/ or press releases. The interviews of key stakeholders will help inform the study, with the following types of questions asked: • Are you an owner of property affected by combustible cladding? How big is it/ how many dwellings in your building? • What have the social effects of being an owner of property affected by combustible cladding? • Has being an owner of property affected by combustible cladding affected your residential status? (i.e. spatial effects) • Has being an owner of property affected by combustible cladding affected your behaviour? • What have been the financial implications of being an owner of property affected by combustible cladding? If you are interested, please email Dr David Oswald at [email protected] or Dr Trivess Moore at [email protected] so they can provide you with an information sheet which describes the project in straightforward language. Make sure that you understand its contents, what's involved, and your rights before deciding whether to participate.  Related article -

Fears raised about loopholes to Sydney Airbnb limits

Owners of Sydney houses and apartments will be able to rent out properties all year round using services such as Airbnb under a loophole in the government’s proposed regulation of the sector, critics say. Draft laws open for consultation provide an exception to the 180-day yearly cap the government had proposed for short-term residential rentals in Sydney. The exception is that when short-term tenants rent a premises for more than 21 days at a time, those days do not contribute to the 180-day annual cap. Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich, whose inner-city electorate takes in areas of high demand for tourist accommodation, described the proposed 21-day exception as a "gross betrayal".
The Sydney Morning Herald
Jacob Saulwick

Blowout in time taken to sell property as high-rise fire fears grow

Buyer fears about high-rise apartment fires and construction risks are causing sale times to blow out by more than 60 per cent compared with a year ago, creating bottlenecks for sellers. Lenders are also making it tougher for borrowers to buy apartments by blacklisting some postcodes, increasing deposits and lowering valuations for off-the-plan purchases. “Buyers are telling me they do not want to buy into anything new,” says Patrick Bright, a Sydney-based buyer’s agent. “They do not want to buy into a problem." Cate Bakos, a buyer’s agent in Melbourne, adds: “Buyers are demanding extra due diligence. They don’t want anything to do with buildings that might have potentially flammable cladding or structural problems.”
The Australian Financial Review
Duncan Hughes

What Members Say

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Robert, Darlinghurst

"I am very pleased with my membership of OCN, the discussions through sharing emails is very valuable in increasing my knowledge of strata living, the laws and EC responsibilities. I think I am better armed to tread the minefield of the managing agent responsibilities and the necessary action of the EC to monitor the contradictory interests of the agent."

Jim, Wollstonecraft

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Ingrid, Neutral Bay

"I must say that I have enjoyed and found consolation in the discussions that have been part of the email chain (forum). I did attend one general meeting and found that it was informative and the people "running the show" were knowledgeable and dedicated to the tasks that had taken on. In short, well done. You and the committee have and continue to support the Strata Community in a very professional manner."

Greg, Parramatta

"Nothing is easy in Strata World and we have been in building defects “mode” for some years – hopefully almost at an end but that process has been most demanding and difficult but again – greatly helped by the experience and wise counsel of other members of OCN."

Pat, St Leonards

"Keep up the good work, as many (if not most) strata schemes need your help, advice and representation at all levels of government."

Jann and John, St Ives

"I belong to OCN because of its professionalism.  I have found the meetings I have been to extremely well presented, to the point, and of course very topical and informative. Speakers on the whole certainly know their topic.  My role of Secretary last year was certainly assisted with the coverage regarding TPG & other subjects. Member newsletters are also of benefit as the topics are specific to strata matters."

Graham, East Balmain

I have enjoyed attending the quarterly OCN meetings and the exchange of emails between other Executive Committee Members and think OCN is playing an increasingly important role as a voice for strata dwellers and representing us at Government level. I wish the organisation continuing success in the future."

Pauline, Kings Cross

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Jenny, Killara

"I would like to thank you all for the important effort that you are all putting in to look after apartment owners and tenants. It is so valuable and you are heroes. I would not have been able to deal with my duties as a strata chairman without your advice and assistance." 

Angela, Mascot

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Bill, Surry Hills

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Sue, Neutral Bay

"Thanks to all at OCN for your continuing efforts to keep us up to date with current strata information and has been very helpful to us"

Kate, Coogee

"When my wife & I first encountered a problematic Executive Committee I heard that OCN was a great help (from a Strata manager whom I knew) so we both joined and have gratefully used the on-line information sources. We continued to happily rely on OCN’s assistance when we progressed to Committee status & later as Chair & Secretary of our Committee. I still use OCN in my current role as Treasurer."

Peter, Chiswick

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Peter, Chiswick

"I wanted to extend my personal thanks for the very informative & interesting event today. The OCN team did an outstanding job in the organisation of this event & I enjoyed it thoroughly. The quality of speakers, the flow of conversation & interaction from the attendees - first class …& of course, the amazing Jimmy T - always a delight."

Sue, Epping

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Lois, Wollongong

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John, Elizabeth Bay

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Alan, Maryville

"Once again, being able to discuss such things through this forum, helps clear the mind, puts things into perspective and helps one to understand their rights and to form a strategy if needs be. As a simple EC member trying to do what is in the best interests of lot owners, I truly value OCN and am grateful."

Pamela, Point Lookout