Tags :A Current Affairnational
Tweed Heads residents are seeking $20 million damages from the property owner that they claim is responsible in Tweed Heads for an apartment block that was constructed seven years ago.
Silverstone Apartment Tower is so decrepit that mushrooms have begun to grow through its carpeting. Due to magnesium in steel wall battens reacting with wet cement, walls are also rusting internally.
It is no more watertight. It is possible for water to seep through apartment light fixtures if it rains.
800 defects total have been identified, some of which are potentially life-threatening according to experts in construction.
Residents refuse to allow the situation to slide and are taking legal action at Villa World, an ASX listed property development company – who reported total sales last year of $200 million.
Michael Peters, an apartment-owner, believes that the big corporations are stealing from the small people.
“Every time it pours, we are worried about where water will come in the next,” stated Mr Peters to A Current Affair.
Storm clouds are approaching so he rolls up his carpet and puts towels down to stop them leaking.
He stated, “It just seeps beyond the walls.”
“It’s horrible, it’s disgraceful.”
Alan Jones, a fellow resident, saw his retirement dreams crumble before he eyes.
He said, “This was our dream home.”
“I’m not the only one here. It has 27 owners and is a large company. They have no sympathy.
June and David McIlwain still possess the glossy brochures they bought seven years ago, when they bought Silverstone.
The apartment they purchased for $500,000 is now valued at only $50,000
Mrs McIlwain stated “Our dream is gone.”
“You just don’t know what’s coming.”
McIlwain claims stress was caused by five years of fighting.
He stated that he was fighting against a large corporation company, but that we were only small and have been disappointed.
“I’ve seen neighbours die, people in hospital. It’s really, truly terrible. It’s not good for your health, and it’s not making you older.
“We had hoped that we would enjoy our retirement, but couldn’t.”
Rod Couch’s unit has one the most severe mould problems this building has to offer.
He cannot afford to be alone. All the expert reports he has received to help him solve the increasing number problems that have ravaged all his savings, have resulted in body corporate fees. His unit has the most severe mould problems, so he can’t rent his spare room.
“I wish Villa World would face its responsibilities,” he said.
“We bought these units in good faith. They were made with poor workmanship and poor material.
If you buy a lemon-shaped car, you can get your car back. We bought a lemon-shaped unit and they want to see us walk away.
Charles Lethbridge, a lawyer at Attwood Marshall representing the owners, says that owners of units were treated “appallingly”.
He stated that some of these people are on pensions and cannot move. “They should leave because there are problems with the building and water intrusion.”
“Many of them have severe depression so they are taking anti-depressants.”
Apartment owners requested expert reports. They estimated that the repair cost would be $16 Million. This is $1 million more than the cost of tearing down and rebuilding.
Villa World disputes these figures. It stated in a statement it was suing A Current Affair along with several other parties. “The owners are not suing Villa World only, but also the suppliers and structural engineers who were responsible for the walling system. Villa World is also seeking damages for the parties it used in the construction.
Residents were told by the company four years ago that they were “encouraged to solve this matter sans the necessity of legal proceedings.” Residents claim that very little has been done in the past years.
In the meantime, mediation is ongoing and the Federal Court will hear the case by October.