Use-by date reached

CHARLEMAGNE GARDENS has become too dangerous and needs to be pulled down, says an owner of one of its units.

The Hamilton Hill strata complex is one of many around the country coming to the end of its life, which is causing a headache for owners, developers and authorities.

Opened by then-mayor Joseph Cooper on April 10, 1970, concrete cancer is now so severe in the 40-unit complex that bolts on some balcony railings barely connect. On one stairwell, the railing has completely come off on one side.

Jason Sheffield says he’s treated like a pest when he raises the many maintenance issues. Cracks run the full height of the three-storey complex and inside his apartment one stretches across his kitchen.

Some neighbours have warned him not to lean on their railings in case he falls through. On top-storey walkways, concrete is so eroded the reinforcing steel is visible.

Mr Sheffield says problems aren’t restricted to the building’s structural integrity.

Two years ago a resident drove his car over a two-metre drop in a car park, damaging the fence along the way. It still hasn’t been repaired.

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• A never-ending maintenance list bedevils Charlemagne Gardens.

Some areas of the garden don’t look like they’ve been touched in years.

As a result of his complaints, Cockburn council sent a building inspector down on November 3 (the same day the Chook sent questions in) who agrees there are issues.

“As a result the city will make contact with the body corporate/strata manager to initiate standard maintenance processes,” council planning director Daniel Arndt told the Herald. Mr Arndt acknowledges the council has some responsibility for ensuring safety but notes it’s really up to the owners of the complex to initiate maintenance.

Strata manager Selby Adams seemed at the end of his wits when he spoke to the Herald.

“I’ve been doing this since 1988, I’ve been trying to find someone else to do it for ages—do you want to do it?” he asked.

“I tried to get a management company to take over, but they charge $8000 just for a starter, and then it’s $28 just to write a letter and anything else costs more.” When asked about the loose railings, Mr Selby blew his top. “You fucking come and fix it!” he thundered, before hanging up.

Strata complexes were a new phenomena in Australia in the ‘60s and ‘70s and many of the first wave are ready for the bulldozer, but every individual owner has to agree to rebuild or sell to a developer.
NSW recently amended its strata laws to allow just 75 per cent support to force a strata sale, but it created a storm of protest as it means some will be unwillingly forced from their homes.

Other states are looking at NSW’s lead with the aim of amending their own legislation.

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