The NSW Government has accused residents of Mascot Towers of attempting to force its hand to pay for urgent remediation work on the beleaguered apartment complex.
The 132-unit Mascot Towers block was evacuated in June after cracks were found in the building’s car park.
At an extraordinary general meeting in August, owners voted to raise $7 million in special levies for remediation works to start.
They had earlier rejected a $10 million special levy loan, which would have incurred more than $3 million in interest.
In an email sent to the ABC, a spokesman for NSW Innovation and Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson said: “We have been advised that taking this option was a deliberate strategy to make the repayments unserviceable for most owners in an attempt to force the Government’s hand to pay for the remediation work.”
Mr Anderson later released an official statement.
“It is unclear why a strata loan payable and levied over 15 years was rejected in favour of a payment term of nine months, especially given the immediate subsequent advice from the owners corporation that a large number of owners would be unable to meet this obligation,” he said.
Residents are due to pay their first instalment next week and many are struggling to find the money.
“You couldn’t think of a worse nightmare to be in,” resident Brian Tucker said.
Unit owner Roslyn Lean said: “I thought I was close to retirement … stage one will be more than 50 per cent of my savings.”
‘We really, really need help’
Opposition Leader Jodi McKay invited Mascot Towers unit owners to attend Question Time on Tuesday.
She opened questioning by calling on the Government to provide low-interest loans to residents.
“The residents of Mascot Towers are desperate to get back into their homes and face financial ruin,” Ms McKay said.
“Why hasn’t your Government offered a low-interest loan so residents like Roslyn, Kasumi, Brian and Thomas can fix their damaged building?”
Mr Anderson would not commit to providing low-interest loans to residents.
“We’ve also spoken to banks. They’ve switched off mortgages as you know, they’ve switched off insurances, and we want to ask all the other banks to come online as well. Stop those repayments while this is going on,” he said.
Some owners who were in the gallery said they were disappointed and felt “fobbed off” by the response.
“I hope to get answers because we really, really need help,” owner Kasumi Kitano said.
“I was very disappointed in both the minister and the Premier that the questions weren’t answered,” Mr Tucker said.