No place to call home

Jess Rodriguez meets opposition leader John Pesutto. (Supplied)

Tara Murray

Jess Rodriguez thought her dream was coming true when she purchased a home and land package to build in Ironbark Way, Doreen.

She had saved hard to put down a deposit to be able to have somewhere nice and new for her and her nine-year-old daughter.

Her mum had purchased land next door.

Slowly, Ms Rodriguez’s dream came crashing down. Her chosen builder, Montego Homes, went into voluntary administration in January and was placed in liquidation last month.

Sam Kaso and Shaun Matthews of insolvency service Cor Cordis were appointed as administrators in January to assess the best way to restructure or recapitalise the business.

There’s also been delays in Ms Rodriguez’s settlement which should have been completed 18 months ago. It is now set to happen by the end of March.

Ms Rodriguez also soon found out that even when the property is settled, she won’t be able to build.

“I’m a single mum,” she said. “We bought a house and land package.

“We later found out that they were separate contracts.”

Due to a pub and restaurant being built as part of the development, Ms Rodriguez was told her house plan no longer met council size guidelines.

“It’s changed the overlay on the overall site and the council will not give us a planning permit.”

Ms Rodriguez and her mother intially believed that Montego Homes had taken out insurance policies as required of builders, but said they’ve since found out they are not covered.

Key initial findings showed that 63 homeowners are affected by the company not having appropriate insurance in place for deposit holders.

Ms Rodriguez and her neighbours have been calling for the state government to provide assistance, just like it did when Porter Davis collapsed last year.

The state government’s Liquidated Builders Customer Support Payment Scheme paid out the creditors of 16 collapsed builders during the last two years and closed on January 29.

Ms Rodriguez said she and her neighbours were no different from those creditors.

“Mum and I paid $30,000 each,” she said. “The rest between $15,000-$20,000.

“It’s the same situation as Porter Davis. We only voted this week [in late February] to put them into liquidation.

“It’s not like they didn’t expect it to happen. They [the government] knew the policies weren’t in line with obligations before the scheme ended.

“Everyday gets worse. You listen to the other stories.”

Ms Rodriguez said they had tried to get out of the contract, but were unsuccessful. She said the rental she is living in has mould, so it was all building up.

She and other residents met with state Liberal Party leader John Pesutto when he visited Doreen last month.

“This week, my leadership team met with local residents impacted by the Montego Homes collapse and who have been left without insurance at no fault of their own,” Mr Pesutto said.

“Due to the mismanagement of the Allan Government, these families have seen the great Australian dream turn into a Labor nightmare.

“The Liberals and Nationals have called for the immediate extension of the Liquidated Builders Customer Support Payment Scheme and will continue to fight for these families who deserve to be supported.”

Opposition Home Ownership and Housing Affordability Minister and Northern Metropolitan Evan Mulholland said that Porter Davis should have been a wake-up call for Labor.

“The serious issues with domestic building insurance non-compliance clearly have not been addressed.”

“No Victorian should lose a home deposit because of Labor’s incompetence. Jacinta Allan must commit to extending the support scheme until the issues plaguing domestic building insurance are resolved.”

A state government spokesperson said the government is continuing to investigate allegations against Montego Homes regarding the absence of insurance for its customers.