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New plan to help owners of faulty Mascot Towers apartment block

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NSW Labor has committed to help remediate a faulty Sydney apartment block so owners can return to the property after residents were evacuated due to major building defects nearly four years ago.

While the 132-apartment Mascot Towers complex has been uninhabitable since defects were detected in June 2019, owners have been slugged with mortgage repayments and council rates.

Labor better regulation spokeswoman Courtney Houssos announced the plan on 2GB’s Ray Hadley Morning Show. If Labor wins the state election, it will partner with owners on the building’s yet-to-be confirmed remediation costs through low-interest or direct rate loans.

That figure has been speculated to be between $30m and $90m.

NSW Labor will also legislate to remove accumulated council rates and extend the accommodation support package until the building is liveable.

“This is a way that the owners can retain the ownership of the asset and then actually realise the capital growth that would have occurred,” Ms Houssos said.

Hadley, however, said the plan was “not good enough”.

“They need help and the help being offered by the Labor government isn’t enough,” he said.

On Wednesday, the NSW Greens called on the winner of the March state election to buy out the apartment owners at Mascot Towers and repair and convert the site to be used as public, social and affordable housing.

Greens planning spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann said the government needed to “step up and take responsibility”.

“The government may have finally introduced legislation to tighten up regulation of the industry, but it still has a responsibility to clean up its mess and support the owners who are left financially ruined by historical poor building practices,” she said.

“How many other apartment complexes will suffer the same fate as Mascot Towers? People who own apartments built in the last two decades should not live in fear that they will end up in the same situation with a massive mortgage and a worthless apartment.”

Ms Houssos said there were issues with a government buyback plan and the management of taxpayer funds.

“My concern with the government buyback even at the 2019 valuation levels means that the owners at best might break even or they might be left with a debt hanging over them,” she said.

“Then they’re still being punted back out into the Sydney property market.”

NSW shadow treasurer Daniel Mookhey and Ms Houssos are scheduled to meet owners protesting outside Mascot Towers on Thursday morning.

The government has yet to announce its response; however, it confirmed to 2GB that the assistance package would be extended past June 30, 2023.

Read related topics:Sydney

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