The Queensland government has moved to close a loophole which the government says allowed builders in residential construction disputes to unduly obstruct the Building Services Authority (BSA) from assisting consumers and caused disputes to drag out unnecessarily.
Minister for Housing Tim Mander says legislative amendments introduced earlier this week will allow the regulator to apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal to continue to act in building disputes even while QCAT proceedings are in progress.
This move closes a loophole which currently prevents the BSA from acting for consumers under the Home Warranty Insurance Scheme during this time.
“Under existing legislation, once a dispute was lodged with the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), the Building Services Authority (BSA) had its hands tied and could not give directions for dodgy work to be rectified or for an insurance claim to be paid out under the Home Warranty Scheme,” Mander explained in a statement.
“The amendments in the Bill introduced today (Wednesday) will fix that, by letting the building industry watchdog make an application to the QCAT for an order to allow it to continue to act in a dispute while QCAT proceedings are underway.”
The latest move comes as the state undergoes an overhaul of building industry regulations which will see the current Building Services Authority abolished from January next year in favour of a new Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC).
Outside of the new authority, the government also plans to overhaul the building dispute system and develop a model to allow builders and consumers to settle disputes quickly.
These plans have been well received by industry groups, with the Master Builders Association saying the industry had been calling for such a system ‘for many years’.
Mander says the aforementioned loophole received significant criticism during a Parliamentary enquiry into the BSA which preceded the regulation changes.
“One of the most common complaints was from people who believed certain contractors were using this provision in the Act to prevent or delay the BSA from assisting consumers in a dispute,” he said.
“This is a common sense change and I’m confident it will help prevent some of the unnecessarily lengthy disputes that cause so much frustration within the industry.”