Govt sitting on its hands: MBA

BUILDERS are facing twelve month delays in dispute resolution and the WA Govern-ment is sitting on its hands over the problem according to the Master Builders Association.

MBA director Michael McLean said that waiting a year for a ruling from the Building Disputes Tribunal was intolerable from both the homebuyers’ and builders’ perspectives.

“The point of the tribunal is to obtain a quick and binding decision to resolve a building dispute. This is not happening,” Mr McLean said.

The main function of the board is to resolve workmanship disputes under the Builder’s Registration Act and contractual disputes under the Home Building Contracts Act.

The tribunal handles about 670 cases each year.

Under a Bill now before Parliament, the government hopes to raise funding by placing a $30 levy on all building licences issued by local governments so the BDC can able to operate without government financial assistance.

Of the $30 raised, $5 will be kept by the local council as a collection fee.

In the interim period before the Bill becomes law, additional funding of $200,000 has been allocated.

Fair Trading Minister Doug Shave admitted present fundings were causing unacceptable delays.

BDC Registrar Nigel Lilley said the $200,000 increase in funding meant more hearings could be held.

The number of disputes waiting for a hearing, already standing at more than 200, could become worse with GST related disputes tipped to dominate over the next few months.

However, current levels of funding means the Board can only schedule, on average, five hearings a week.

Mr Lilley said people who had lodged complaints would be contacted shortly with advice that hearing days for disputes would increase from five days to twenty days per month.

He said amendments proposed by the WA Government to speed up the dispute resolution process and provide the Board with improved regulatory powers had taken more than three years to be drafted.

The Government was showing no signs of doing anything to improve the situation in the foreseeable future, he said.

“Homebuyers and builders are now at the end of their tethers,” Mr McLean said.

“In some cases, homebuyers might be denied access to their home until the dispute is resolved.

“Many of these disputes have outstanding monies due or payable, or additional building work which may be required.

“The heavy period of building work associated with the GST is already resulting in more disputes which are contributing to further pressures on the tribunal process, creating further frustrations between builders and homebuyers.”

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