But thousands of people living in apartments across Melbourne are currently at risk of a potentially life threatening incident, because successive governments have prioritised the profits of property developers over the safety of its citizens.
To make matters worse, the current Andrews Government is asking individual owners take out loans, putting them around $60,000 out of pocket, and then launch their own legal proceedings to recoup costs from builders or developers responsible.
The size of these loans has meant that many people are unable to take on the financial burden and the cladding remains unfixed.
A recent Roundtable on the cladding issue hosted by Samantha Ratnam reached the following Resolution.
We’re calling on the Andrews Labor Government to:
Sign now to help pressure the Andrews Labor Government to keep Victorians safe from flammable cladding.
Dangerous flammable cladding should never have been allowed on Melbourne’s buildings in the first place, but successive governments have taken their eyes off the ball.
It goes back to the early 1990s, when the Kennett Government took building surveyors out of local government and privatised the service, resulting in a drop in standards.
This has led to systemic failures which have allowed widespread non-compliant use of combustible cladding in the building industry across Victoria.
Despite a lack of government oversight and regulation being the cause of this crisis, the current Andrews Labor Government is not willing to take responsibility for removing the flammable cladding.
Instead they are offering to loan money to fix cladding, which still leaves apartment owners out of pocket and responsible for recouping costs through legal action.
The huge financial burden this has put on individual owners means that in many cases the cladding remains unfixed, putting lives at risk. The situation is even more complicated for renters who don't own the property and may not be aware of the risk.
There have now been two apartment buildings in Melbourne that have caught fire due to flammable cladding - the Lacrosse building in Docklands in 2014 and the Neo 200 building on Spencer Street in February 2019.
The combustible aluminium polyethylene cladding that fuelled these fires is the same cladding used on London’s Grenfell tower, where 72 people died in 2017.
The quickest and most equitable way to resolve this situation is for the government to establish a Cladding Safety Fund, to cover the upfront costs of replacing cladding.
This would allow apartment owners to access immediate funding to cover the costs and remove dangerous cladding from their buildings, rather than face the burden of individual loans and getting a majority of owners to agree and pay for the work to proceed - which creates lengthy delays and puts people at risk for longer.
The initial amount in the fund is still to be determined, but $50 million would cover at least 800 dwellings.
Responsibility should lie with the Government because one of its main functions is to ensure the safety of its citizens, and the cladding crisis was compounded by a failed system of regulation and enforcement.
Are you an apartment owner or resident who has been affected by flammable cladding, and you'd like to share your story? Please get in touch with Samantha Ratnam, Leader of the Victorian Greens with details of your situation: [email protected]