Flat Chat Wrap #32 - Time we had a star rating for the best and worst developers and builders
In this week's Podcast, Jimmy Thomson and Sue Williams discuss why it is that we can get ratings and comparisons for just about everything we buy ... except the largest purchase most of us will ever make. And they float the idea of people being given (and losing) a licence to live in strata.
We have a friend called Royce who wouldn’t buy so much as a toothbrush without checking online to see if it was the best design (at the best price) for his specific dental needs. He is so notorious for his exhaustive product checking that our group of friends refers to the process as “Roycing”.
For instance, you say you’re thinking of buying a particular brand of new TV and someone says “Oh, have you Royced it?”
We were reminded about that this week, after my piece in last weekend’s Australian Financial Review about how to avoid buying an apartment with built-in problems, when we realised there is no independent ratings system for apartment blocks, builders or developers.
So in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap, journalist and author Sue Williams and I ask why it is that you can go online and get people’s opinions of hotels and resorts on websites like Tripadvisor (and others), but you can’t get any unbiased, independent reviews of developers, builders and even apartment blocks.
That segued into our chat about how a star rating might work. We think you could start with everyone getting three stars, which they could lose by poor service and bad behaviour, and gain by just providing a decent service.
We’re not talking about losing points for having a building with defects – it’s more about how they deal with the defects once they have been discovered.
If a developer compels their apartment owners to take them to court, and then they lose the case, that’s a silver star gone immediately.
On the other hand, if they have a good record of dealing with owners’ issues, in a timely and reasonable fashion, those silver stars turn gold.
Could it work? Yes, but, to be honest, we are more likely to have some half-cocked voluntary code of conduct foisted on us.
But all that chat about bad actors on the developer and builder side, got us talking about a similar system for strata residents.
We came up with the idea of a licence to live in strata, which everyone got for free as soon as they signed up to rent or buy, but then lost points – and eventually the ability to live in strata completely – if they turned out to be antisocial pains in the ass.
Moving on, Sue told us about the giant loophole in strata law that means you can get orders issued by NCAT but then they don’t have the power to enforce them if the subject of the order just ignores them
We also talked about who pays the power bills when residents put their own washing machines and dryers in common property laundries.
And we discussed residents who own more cars than parking spots, who permanently use visitor parking as atheir own. Should you crack down on them, even when there’s plenty of visitor parking to spare?
Or is it, to use that phrase beloved of lawyers around the world, “a matter of principle”?
That’s all in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap:
And it’s also available on YouTube.