ACT News

Andara termite paperwork fight may end

Homeowners who had been unable to obtain a certificate of occupancy due to a fight over termite certificates may have some relief, after an order for a liquidator to be appointed for crippled building company Andara Homes.

The order by the Queensland Supreme Court on Friday, confirmed by a staff member of the applicant's lawyers, comes after about a year of widespread legal battles between Andara, trade creditors and homeowners.

Michelle Mallitt, who terminated her contract with Andara earlier this year, said she was aware of at least four former clients of the building company who had been unable to obtain termite certificates because the pest company would not hand them over without permission from Andara's director Simon Anderson or Andara's insolvency.

"I think there are lots of people for who this [liquidator order] is going to be a relief, it's a chapoter of their life they can now close," she said. 

Ms Mallitt said she was surprised to be given her unsubstantiated certificate of occupancy by the ACT government late on Friday night, weeks after first making written complaints to the Environment and Planning Directorate and about two months after she moved into her new home, burdened by expenses.

"I couldn't afford to keep paying rent," she said.

While the directorate has powers to obtain termite certificates from a sub-contractor, which would then allow it to grant the full (or documented) certificate of occupancy and use, Ms Mallitt said the pest inspector used by Andara had told her he would hand over the termite documents willingly once he had seen the liquidator order in writing. The inspector did not respond on Saturday.

A directorate spokeswoman said it was an offence under the Building Act to occupy or use, or allow someone else to occupy or use, a building that had not had a certificate of occupancy and use issued.  

"The Construction Occupations Registrar is not aware of this being a widespread problem in the ACT," she said.

A person successfully prosecuted for the offence can be fined $7000.

Ms Mallitt said Andara had also failed to pay the building application fees it was required to, worth about $5000, and has requested this be waived by ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr.

Andara has received statutory demands for payments of debt worth more than a combined $150,000 since the start of May. The company has disputed these debts in the Federal Court. Mr Anderson, unable to be reached on Saturday, has previously denied any wrongdoing by his company.