Victorian apartment owners face bills of tens of thousands of dollars to fix dangerous cladding after a court ruled that the state’s building regulator has overstepped its mark in ordering builders to rectify the problem, media reports have suggested.

As reported in Fairfax Media, the Supreme Court of Victoria has ruled that the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) exceeded its power in ordering builder LU Simon to conduct rectification work on the cladding of six Melbourne CBD towers which it constructed with what is believed to be flammable and non-compliant cladding.

Whilst the VBA had successfully ordered builders to rectify unsatisfactory work in the past, the Court ruled that builders are only required to rectify defective work during construction.

Beyond that, responsibility rests with owners – albeit with owners being able to sue builders for up to ten years following the issuing of an occupancy permit.

The ruling serves as a blow to hundreds of thousands of apartment owners whose buildings been clad with flammable material in Victoria.

Had the VBA succeeded in this case, it would have meant that the regulator would have been able to order builders directly to rectify building defects.

This would have spared owners the expense associated with costly legal battles.

The ruling directly impacts what The Age reports as being2,500 people who live in or near the six towers involved in the LU Simon case.

These buildings include: the twin Verve and Milano complex on the corner of Swanston and Franklin Streets (49 storeys); the Aura on Flinders Street; the Atlantis Tower and Best Western Atlantis Hotel on Spencer Street (36 storeys); the Guilfoyle complex in Southbank (21 storeys); a nine-storey building at 463 Docklands Drive; and a 19-storey building at the former Quantas office at 42-56 Franklin Street in the northern part of the CBD.

Beyond the immediate ruling, however, consequences could be widespread.

A government taskforce estimates that as many as 14,000 multi-storey buildings throughout the state could contain flammable cladding material.

Building services company Roscon says it has been quoting between $40,000 and $60,000 per apartment to have unsafe cladding rectified.