Opal Tower residents sue as insurance costs soar 1000 per cent

Opal Tower residents have launched a new lawsuit against the Sydney Olympic Park Authority and the NSW Government after “about 500 defects” were allegedly found in the building, on top of the cracking that forced residents to evacuate in 2018.

Owners corporation chairman Shady Eskander told reporters this morning the new issues ranged from facade to hydraulic defects and had caused insurance premiums to soar “by 1000 per cent”.

“We have suffered incomprehensible loss and disruption to our lives since the incident on Christmas Eve 2018,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we have discovered our losses are much greater.”

Nearly 300 residents were evacuated from the 36-floor tower on Christmas Eve in 2018 after an internal wall cracked, causing a loud “bang” and the building to shake.

The luxury high-rise, with 392 apartments priced between $800,000 and $2.5 million, had opened just four months earlier.

Repair work began almost immediately, and some residents able to return to the tower in January 2019.

Others weren’t so lucky and were holed up in temporary accommodation for a year, with the final apartment not returned until Christmas Eve 2019.

In July 2019, residents launched a multimillion-dollar class action against the Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA), which owns the land the tower was built on, and the NSW Government for compensation.

The newly announced action, which has begun in the NSW Supreme Court, will run separately, as it is for issues in common areas, whereas the class action will focus on the damage to individual apartments and owners.

Mr Eskander told NCA NewsWire the new action would seek to recoup court costs, the costs of the reports and for SOPA to fix the newly identified defects in common areas.

He claims the damage done by the initial cracking, plus the other defects, has caused insurance on the building to soar by $1 million.

“In the first year, it was $100,000,” he said.

“This year, it’s $1.1 million.”

A spokesman for Icon, which was responsible for building the tower and is also named in the lawsuit, said the company had already spent about $40 million since Opal Tower was evacuated in December 2018, and provided a 20-year warranty on the repairs.

“Despite weekly meetings with the Opal Tower Owners Corporation, we only became aware of the overwhelming majority of recently identified alleged issues when legal action was launched,” he said.

“Icon remains ready to address any actual defects in Opal Tower as a priority and has asked the Owners Corporation for access to the building to identify any legitimate defects.

“While this permission has been denied to date, Icon will continue to address legitimate issues within apartments that are not the property of the Owners Corporation and has written to directly to individual apartment owners to obtain access.”

Adding to their issues, owners have now found they are unable to receive any type of loan from banks, as their properties are now worth next to nothing.

Resident Andrew Neverly told reporters he had asked Westpac if he could refinance his home and was told the bank would not lend on the building.

Mr Neverly said he “thought he was buying into the Australian dream” when he purchased the property but has since been left out of pocket thousands of dollars – and down in rent revenue after being forced to drop the price following the highly publicised cracking in the building.

A spokeswoman for SOPA told NCA NewsWire as the matter was before the court, it would be inappropriate to comment.

The NSW Government also declined to comment directly on the lawsuit, noting it was before the court, but a spokesman said new pieces of legislation, the Design and Building Practitioners Bill and the Residential Apartment Buildings Bill, had reformed the building and construction industry into the “transparent, accountable, consumer-centric industry it needs to be”.

“For homeowners with existing defects in their buildings, the legislation provides new protections and recourse by stipulating that anyone carrying out building work has a legal duty to avoid construction defects both for new buildings and retrospectively for buildings built up to ten years before the legislation was passed,” they said.

“This gives homeowners in properties built in the last 10 years new legal rights to recover the cost of repairing defects from responsible third parties through the courts, and has been universally welcomed by consumer groups.”

Source link

Leave a comment

Sign Up Now

Become a member of our online community and get tickets to upcoming matches or sports events faster!