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Labor vows to create NSW strata commissioner

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NSW Labor says it will appoint a strata commissioner to advocate for apartment owners and residents on building defect issues if it wins the state election.

It comes after the Coalition last month announced plans to improve regulation.

“Strata is the fastest-growing sector of housing in the state, but our laws are so complicated and vested interests are always ready to confuse issues,” Labor’s innovation and better regulation spokeswoman Yasmin Catley said.

“It’s time strata owners had someone in power who is focused on their needs.”

Building problems were highlighted in December when residents of Sydney’s Opal Tower were forced to relocate due to cracking. The state is also dealing with combustible cladding issues.

The Coalition Government last month outlined plans to improve building and construction industry oversight, including clarifying the law so owners have a right to compensation when a building practitioner has been negligent.

Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean says the Government will appoint a building commissioner to act as the state’s consolidated regulator, with responsibility for licensing and auditing practitioners.

Owners Corporation Network of Australia Chairman Phil Gall has welcomed the strata commissioner proposal, but also calls for the creation of a ministry for housing that addresses wider issues.

“Opal Tower is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “We welcome the announcements of both parties to address defects, but any reform must be robust and deliver real results.”

The NSW state election will be held on March 23.