Apartment buyers still need protection against building defects



Chandler has the power and he has not been afraid to use it. He issued an order for the repair of Opal Tower among many others.

Chandler has also used his public position as a bully pulpit to advocate for apartment buyers’ rights and higher building standards, even when it annoyed the powerful property development lobby.

In May, he launched a star-rating system which gives buyers an indication of whether their apartment builder has a good track record when it comes to defects.

At its launch, he said apartment buyers should play “the power card” and boycott those who did not make the cut.

It is unclear why Chandler has decided to resign somewhat earlier than expected. He was due to leave in October but his term was extended for a year. He has now said he will leave his post in November. The website Urban Developer reported in April that Chandler said developers “had ordered champagne” to celebrate his impending retirement.

Fair Trading Minister Eleni Petinos should explain why he is leaving and guarantee that he is not being driven from office to placate the developer lobby.

She should also choose a replacement with the industry experience, energy and authority to take over where Chandler is leaving off.

Premier Dominic Perrottet should show his political commitment and give a personal endorsement to the new commissioner.

Chandler has done a great deal, using the legislation passed in 2019, but the work is still incomplete. He published a study last year that found 39 per cent of strata buildings had experienced serious defects in common areas.


For example, he was about to turn his attention to Project Remediate, a scheme to replace flammable cladding on hundreds of residential apartment buildings.

While owners of detached houses also face defects, about 11,000 a year, they at least have the protection of the Home Builders Compensation scheme.

NSW must appoint a strong building commissioner to stand up for the growing number of people who choose to live in apartments.

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