Saturday , January 23 2021

Taxpayers' risks mounting for the Opal Tower

Property records show that the government retains at least 43 units at the Opal Tower. SOPA had always planned to host 11 apartments to use it as affordable housing in the fast growing Olympic parking space.

But under the structure of the development agreement between SOPA and the Ecove developer, SOPA remains the registered owner of the apartments until they are sold by Ecove.

In addition, there is a chance that other owners in the tower could follow SOPA for the cost of improving building defects, if it is considered that the project developer is under the Home Building Act.

Y Herald He asked for comments from the minister responsible for SOPA, Stuart Ayres. A SOPA spokeswoman refused to address the issue that, under the Home Building Act, The SOPA as a landowner could be considered as a developer for the purposes of guarantee insurance.

The spokesman, under the signing of signed agreements with developers, said, "the developer assumes all risks to the project, while SOPA only retains certain obligations in terms of a title until a settlement happens on the relevant property ".

Plaid leader Michael Daley said the government was "playing as a property developer with taxpayers' money".

"The Liberals have gone to a great deal to hide the fact that they are a co-developer of the Opal Tower and they are in a profit sharing agreement with the owner," said Mr Daley.

Professor of Engineering Mark Hoffman, Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts, and Shady Eskander from the corporate body of Opal Tower.

Professor of Engineering Mark Hoffman, Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts, and Shady Eskander from the corporate body of Opal Tower.Credit:Louise Kennerley

"They thought that it would triggered money when it was in fact, it could be exactly opposite – a legal pay funded by a taxpayer for a billion dollars for the owners of the unit."

The agreement structure agreed between the SOPA and the Ecove developer included a "profit-sharing formula", according to last year's decision in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal on an unsuccessful application by the Ecove subsidiary of Australia Avenue Agencies that should not be required he paid land tax.

It is likely that legislative reforms of the Home Building Act in 2011, designed to close a gap that owners may have no guarantee insurance for defective apartment blocks, had contributed to the possibility that SOPA could be assumed site developer.

The fair trading minister then, Anthony Roberts, told Parliament that "the owner of the land that owns or owns four or more units in the development, is considered to be developer, regardless of whether they are committed to the contract with the builder. "

SOPA is the landowner and owns more than four apartments at Opal Tower.

An interim report by engineering experts engaged by the government found last month that "significant correction" work was needed to rectify the defects of the building.

In late January, SOPA resigned from the Opal owners committee, a decision that told residents, hoping that he would "delete any current and future conflicts of interest."

Jacob Saulwick is City Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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