Australia: Residential Focus - 28 October 2015

Last Updated: 1 November 2015
Article by Jack O’Donnell

Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2017

A Bill is currently before the NSW Parliament that aims to provide the necessary legislative framework to implement a comprehensive policy in relation to loose-fill asbestos insulation. The Home Building and Duties Amendment (Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation Affected premises) Bill 2015 (Bill) adopts similar measures to those previously adopted in the ACT in establishing a Voluntary Purchase Demolition Program, and increasing community awareness and disclosure requirements.

There is currently an unknown quantity of dangerous loose-fill asbestos installed in rooftops built across NSW throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Complicating the situation further is the fact that loose fill asbestos cannot be identified by sight alone and requires specialised testing by a licensed asbestos assessor. A standard building report does not confirm its presence to a prospective buyer.

The Bill contains two key amendments to the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW):

  1. the establishment of disclosure requirements by allowing the creation of a register of affected properties; and
  2. mandatory warning signs on affected properties.

It is expected that these requirements will assist in informing workers and employees of the possibility of exposure at affected premises. They will also provide emergency services workers with advance notice of the status of any affected premises and allow for appropriate precautions to be taken.

The Bill also amends the Duties Act 1987 (NSW) to provide for a stamp duty concession for home owners who need to purchase a new property as a consequence of their voluntary participation in the Voluntary Purchase Demolition Program. The concession is capped at the amount of duty that would have been payable on the purchase of the loose fill asbestos affected home by the Government, if they were required to pay stamp duty.

The Bill follows similar announcements in 2014, including free ceiling insulation testing for residences in 26 local government areas across NSW in August (which has since increased to 27), the Make Safe Assistance Package in December, and the establishment of the Loose-Fill Asbestos Insulation Taskforce, also in December. It was the 13 recommendations of that Taskforce, all of which were accepted by the NSW Government earlier this year, which contributed to the introduction of this Bill.

The Bill is expected to pass both houses in the coming weeks. It is anticipated that further amendments will also be made, including to the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010 (NSW) to protect current and future tenants living in premises affected by loose fill asbestos insulation.

In the media

Infinity cable recall: Homeowners risk lives by refusing inspections of dangerous electrical cables
Some homeowners are prioritising money and clean records over their lives by refusing inspections of their homes for recalled Infinity cables that may soon cause fires and electrocutions (19 October 2015) More...

MBA: Residential building: stronger for the next two years
Master Builders is forecasting another year of solid growth in the value of building work done in 2015 16, providing further impetus to the growth in the Australian economy, Peter Jones, Chief Economist of Master Builders Australia said (14 October 2015). More...

Energy Savings Scheme will reduce living costs
The NSW Government is improving its Energy Savings Scheme (ESS) make it more affordable for households and businesses to purchase and install energy efficient products (13 October 2015) Energy Savings Scheme will reduce living costs


Hamdan v Commissioner for Fair Trading [2015] NSWCATOD 114
HOME BUILDING – cancellation of authority – application for restoration of authority – jurisdiction of Tribunal. More...

Kurmond Homes Pty Ltd v Zaknic [2015] NSWCATAP 231
Procedural fairness, practical completion, decision not fair and equitable, extension of time, against the weight of evidence, residential home building. More...

Pattullo v EPK Kitchens Pty Ltd [2015] NSWCATAP 230
APPEAL — appeal from Consumer and Commercial Division of NCAT — whether question of law is raised — construction of a contract — repudiation of contact — assessment of damages. More...

Lauer & Ng v Corner [2015] NSWCATCD 114 (25 August 2015) (G Meadows Senior Member)
Administrative law-home building-identity of builder-multiple causes of action claimed-Australian Consumer Law and residential building works-misleading and deceptive conduct-restitution-entitlement of unlicensed builder to retain payments in absence of quantum meruit claim-damages. More...

LANE & OWEN [2015] FamCAFC 197 (22 October 2015) (Ainslie-Wallace, Ryan and Murphy JJ)
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – PROPERTY – Where the trial judge found that the parties' matrimonial home was unable to be sold prior to May 2018 – Where the ability of the parties to sell the matrimonial home is disputed – Where the wife was issued an owner-builder permit pursuant to the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW) to develop the matrimonial home – Where the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW) provides for statutory warranties in relation to defects in the property – Where proceedings for breach of the statutory warranties must be brought within certain limitation periods – Where the limitation period commences on the date of "practical completion" – Whether "practical completion" is determined by reference to common law principles or the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW) – Where the trial judge incorrectly applied the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW) to find that practical completion occurred on the latest rather than earliest of the possible dates – Appeal allowed. More...



Bills introduced Government – 23 October 2015

Home Building and Duties Amendment (Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation Affected Premises) Bill 2015

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