Residents of the evacuated Mascot Towers are being forced to consider two options to fund urgent remediation works at the 132-unit complex, but fear they won’t be able to afford either.
At an annual general meeting later this month, apartment owners will be given the option to proceed with a multimillion-dollar special levy or rescind it in favour of a commercial strata loan to fix the building.
One loan proposal would offer up to $20 million at a 7.7 per cent variable interest rate per annum over 15 years, with funds to be put towards stages one and three of the remediation works which have already started.
One resident, who did not want to be named, said “the options presented to us as owners are like choosing a preferred execution method”.
Another owner said both options are “very bad”, adding he had spoken with a bankruptcy lawyer on Wednesday morning.
“We don’t know whether the $20 million is the end or just the beginning. We have not yet received the final costing,” the owner said. “The strata committee can liquidate me if they push through the motion in the AGM.”
A survey last month by the building’s owners corporation found more than a third of owners cannot pay their portion of the levy because banks and other lenders are refusing to assist.
Resident Brain Tucker said the need to finalise a payment option had intensified after engineers warned that as the weather warms, the building would be under significantly more pressure.
He said the uncertainty of the situation is “at the back of your mind all the time”.
“It’s the first thing you think of in the morning, and the last thing you think of at night – just how am I going to get out of it,” he said.
“It’s a nightmare, there is just no easy way out. Just to see Mascot Towers boarded up, it’s just horrible memories.”
Residents of the 132 apartments were evacuated in June over cracking in the primary support structure and facade masonry, causing fears the building had become unstable.
Four months on, owners have been given no indication when they will be allowed to return.
A spokesman for the owners corporation said they were presenting owners with the best funding options it had managed to secure.
“Although the special levy was approved at the last extraordinary general meeting, we now have access to loan alternatives which will reduce the owners’ short-term funding commitments by extending the payment term to 15 years,” he said.
“We’re cognisant of their financial hardship which is why we’re doing everything we can to ensure the owners are looked after.
“At the end of the day we need to agree on a solution to assist with our current cash flow problem, and we hope that owners come to a consensus at the AGM this month.”
The spokesman also said the owners corporation needed to factor in legal costs because they intend to seek “legal redress and compensation based on the engineering advice to date on what is behind the damage caused to Mascot Towers”.
A spokesman for the Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation said the government had made additional expert technical advisers available, who would provide independent advice on any remediation plan.
“This will allow the full scope of the works to be understood, costed and verified through an independent expert peer review and help provide greater peace of mind to lot owners that any works program will ultimately enable the building to again be occupied,” the spokesman said.
Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson told Parliament last month rental assistance for owners had been extended by six months, covering residents until March 2020.