Owners slugged with $1m levy for ‘urgent repairs’
OWNERS of apartments in the trouble-plagued Mascot Towers have been told they would need to come up with a 'special levy' of $1 million for 'urgent repairs' to be carried out. SUBSCRIBE FOR THE EXCLUSIVE DETAILS.
There are 122 apartments in the complex meaning owners will pay about $8197 per unit for the levy, despite not even being able to live in the building.
In a notice from the building's strata managers, Strata Choice, for an extraordinary general meeting to be held on Thursday, residents were informed the special levy was necessary to allow the owners corporation to "perform urgent repair and maintenance to ensure the complex is safe and secure for all residents to return to their homes".
Furious residents have been forced to foot the bill for alternative accommodation after being evacuated from the 10-storey apartment complex (below) on Friday night when cracks appeared in the carpark.
News of the $1 million hit comes as it can be revealed unit owners had already launched legal action last year over "negligence'' and "deceptive conduct'' concerning "slip joint defects''.
In a letter obtained by The Daily Telegraph sent to owners on July 11 last year, Strata Choice said the owners corporation had resolved to launch legal proceedings against Bayside Council, an engineering practice and a building management company.
"The claims against the Parties are for negligence, misleading and deceptive conduct and it was resolved to appoint Grace Lawyers to provide legal services to the Owners Corporation," the letter read.
An accompanying letter from Grace Lawyers said the proceedings were "in relation to the new slip joint defects that exist at 1-5 Bourke Street, Mascot".
It is understood there are no longer proceedings against the engineer referred to in the letter.
Strata Choice issued a notice to Mascot Towers residents last Thursday informing them the planned installation of temporary building propping in the carpark to help fix "a slip joint defect" had been brought forward.
The next night residents received another notice advising them to evacuate the building by 9pm.
The Daily Telegraph can also reveal it's not the first time lawyers have been brought in to deal with issues at the high-rise building.
The letter from Grace Lawyers also noted the slip joint issue was "different to the previous claim made against the builder and the developer". The building was developed by John Elias, who couldn't be reached on Monday.
There is no suggestion that Mr Elias did not perform his duties properly.
When questioned about the legal action launched last year, a spokesman for the owners corporation said the issues raised were "complex".
"At present, the engineer is still monitoring and determining the cause of the matter. A report will be received and forwarded to state government. We've made a clear determination … that we will await the engineer's report before making any further comment," the spokesman said, adding that the immediate focus was on assisting the owners and residents.
A Bayside Council spokeswoman said it had not received any notification about legal proceedings against it in relation to this matter. Grace Lawyers on Monday confirmed an application had been lodged against certain parties and is currently before the courts.
The owners corporation will write to the premier to plead for "emergency assistance" to help residents pay for temporary accommodation. The building has no warranty protection, which expired six years after construction.
ANGRY RESIDENTS TAKE ON LAST LOOK AT HOME
Some fed up residents at Mascot Towers returned home briefly to retrieve their belongings.
Sixty-four of the 122 units are in a partly-accessible zone and those tenants were able to return if they made an appointment from yesterday.
David Lim, 33, only moved into the apartment six-weeks ago and said there had been myriad problems.
"We were trying to move out of our place last week, trying on Thursday," he told The Daily Telegraph.
"Our airconditioning didn't work at the start, there were issues with plumbing - we didn't want to pay $770 a week for an apartment that didn't work," he said.
Mr Lim was trying to break his lease before the evacuation on Friday.
His experience of living at Mascot Towers was that management were unorganised and the white goods were of poor quality.
Furious residents were forced to take time off work to battle the rain and try and collect their belongings in a 15-minute window.
Another man who returned to Bourke St on Monday was Andy Ang, who says he was "left to die".
The 39-year-old slept through the evacuation on Friday night. He said he had a long day and trouble sleeping the night before the residents were kicked out.
"I was the last person to leave the building. I didn't get out of there until about 5.30am," he said. "I didn't know what to do but no one was here."