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Mascot Towers owners say $10 million repairs bill a ‘dangerous precedent’

The unit owners are calling on Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson and new Building Commissioner David Chandler to attend an extraordinary general meeting next Thursday when they will vote on whether to take out a $10 million loan to fund repairs.

It is estimated this special levy will fund the first tranche of an expected four stages of repairs to the Bourke Street building, which was evacuated of nearly 300 residents on June 14, residents say.

“It is shameful that this is happening in Australia, and it is extremely egregious that homeowners like us now face the choice of bankruptcy or a massive lifelong financial debt through no fault of our own,” the residents said.

“We are not asking for handouts, we are asking that the responsible parties be held to account and rightfully pay to fix the very defects to correct this wrong.”

The residents are asking the state government to introduce “immediate and retroactive protections” for homeowners.

“That homeowners like us have to personally shoulder such a massive financial burden, with more to come down the road, sets a very dangerous precedent in NSW, if not Australia itself.

“We ask that [the premier, minister and building commissioner] put themselves in our shoes, and tell us what is a reasonable amount of time for us to be absent from our homes, while being made to pay ongoing mortgages and additional living costs.”

Mascot Towers owners voted in June to fund a $1 million special levy to fund initial repairs.

Mascot Towers owners voted in June to fund a $1 million special levy to fund initial repairs.Credit:Wolter Peeters

In June, residents voted overwhelmingly in favour of paying a $1.1 million levy for early repairs, however, it is understood the cost of fixing cracks to the decade-old building has since increased.

The plight of Mascot Towers owners was in the spotlight on the first hearing day of the inquiry, when one owner sobbed as he described the uncertainty he and his young family now faced.

Another owner told Monday’s hearing that he might have been better off investing in a caravan, as owners of the 132-unit building still await answers as to what caused the structural damage.

The residents said on Wednesday that there had been little focus on “true accountability” after Mascot Towers became one of a string of unit blocks across Sydney to be evacuated due to safety concerns.

“Through no fault of our own, we have forked out our life savings to now discover that the very people paid to do their jobs, have neglected to do so in the worst ways imaginable.

“What is even more horrifying; due to the lack of regulations and protections undone by the state government, hardworking Australian homeowners in NSW like us are now resigned to resolve these building defect issues on our own, often in suffering silence.

“We have a legal obligation to fix the building but we cannot afford to do so.”

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The residents said that the testimonies given at the inquiry’s first hearing day on Monday “all spoke to a common pattern of negligence and cutting of corners due to the scaling back of regulations”.

“Not to mention the conflict of interest that has arisen due to the practise of private certification.”

The government says it will introduce legislation for building industry reforms “in the coming months”.

A spokesman for Mr Anderson said the minister was happy to meet with the building’s owners corporation at a time outside of the strata meeting.

He said Mr Chandler, who started in the building commissioner role on Wednesday, would inspect the site.

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