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Certifier of Sydney’s ‘worst’ tower for defects under investigation

Accredited certifier Jason Storer.

Accredited certifier Jason Storer.

Fair Trading confirmed that an investigation was under way into the conduct of Mr Storer, the accredited certifier who issued the occupation certificate for the Auburn development.

Mr Storer declined to comment on the matter on Wednesday when approached by the Herald.

Fair Trading’s building professionals board has the power to investigate certifying authorities.

If evidence of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct is found, it may take one or more disciplinary actions under the Building Professionals Act.

The latest controversy to envelop a Sydney apartment tower comes as Fair Trading finalises an investigation into Maurice Freixas, the accredited certifier of an apartment building next to the cracked and empty Mascot Towers in Sydney’s inner south.

The owners of Mascot Towers have alleged that work on the neighbouring Peak Towers, which Mr Freixas issued an occupation certificate for, was responsible for major cracks appearing in their apartment complex in June last year. The cracking forced them to evacuate the building.

Mr Freixas’s employer, Dix Gardner, said he had acted in line with the statutory functions and obligations that apply to all certifiers in NSW, as set out Building Professionals Act.

“Prior to issuing an occupation certificate, he obtained and relied upon documentation provided by the project’s engineer, and other professional sub-contractors, that the building met its conditions of consent and complied with the Building Code of Australia,” a spokesman said.

Apartments are still for sale in the Auburn tower.

Apartments are still for sale in the Auburn tower.Credit:Jacky Ghossein

New laws were passed in NSW early this month aimed at improving protections for apartment owners, and restoring public confidence in the building industry after it was shaken by the evacuation of Opal Towers in December 2018, and Mascot Towers six months later.

The building commissioner’s key power will be his ability to withhold occupation certificates, which will stop builders or developers from forcing buyers to settle on properties with defects. His powers come into force in September.

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The tower at 93 Auburn Road is one of two developed on a large site in the suburb’s town centre by Merhis. About 251 apartments are in the entire development named Aya Eliza.

One first-home buyer in the tower, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was “in a dilemma now” because he did not know if he should settle on his apartment or risk losing his deposit which ran into the tens of thousands of dollars.

“It is a big decision. I don’t know what I should do – just lose the [deposit] or just buy it and hope for the best” he said.

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