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Cowboy builders have the upper hand
Dispute resolution laws covering renovation projects are skewed in favour of builders and strip investors and home buyers of basic rights, according to a leading Tasmanian lawyer.
Increasing numbers of people are seeking legal advice about problems with builders, despite changes to the payment process made in 2009, Law Society of Tasmania president Frank Moore said.
The Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment system, introduced in 2009 in place of housing indemnity insurance, had skewed dispute resolution in favour of builders, according to Mr Moore.
“That has had a dramatic effect on consumers and their ability to resolve disputes with builders,” he said.
“The most important change has been that a builder is now able to simply serve upon a consumer or homeowner a payment claim and, if there is a dispute about that amount and the consumer doesn't lodge what's called a payment schedule, they can lose all further rights to dispute the claim.”
“Nowhere is the consumer told [that], and the builder can move to have the full amount recovered from them as though it were a debt.”
Mr Moore said the system has resulted in unnecessary issues and costly legal battles for investors and home buyers.
‘Supply housing’, demands lobby group
The Tasmanian Government has pledged to increase affordable home supply to tackle housing stress.
“Since January 2009, the Australian and Tasmanian governments together have built over 700 affordable houses and we’re on track to deliver more than 1,400 by July 2014,” Human Services Minister Cassy O’Connor said.
The push has come in response to figures published by the lobby group Australians for Affordable Housing (AAH).
The AAH found that rent had risen at twice the rate of inflation over the past five years.