Court short on 'downsized' plans, investor says

Not according to plan: John Flinn at the Ramsgate Park development where he found the courtyards of his three new units were "signficantly shorter" than promised. Picture: Chris Lane
Not according to plan: John Flinn at the Ramsgate Park development where he found the courtyards of his three new units were "signficantly shorter" than promised. Picture: Chris Lane

Kogarah resident John Flinn says three apartments he purchased in the Ramsgate Park (the old Darrrell Lea site) development have been downsized without his permission.

Mr Flinn said Ramsgate Park developer JQZ has included the car spaces and storage areas in the lot size of the final strata plan, which he said was not in the original contract.

Ramsgate Park has approximately 534 apartments across four residential buildings on the 3.3ha former Darrell Lea site.

Mr Flinn purchased three apartments on the north side of the development in 2017.

"Dream and the reality": The courtyards as shown in the marketing material and a drone photo (below) taken by Mr Flinn showing the actual areas.

"Dream and the reality": The courtyards as shown in the marketing material and a drone photo (below) taken by Mr Flinn showing the actual areas.

He sold two other properties to purchase the three units and saw them as an investment for his young family's future.

But at a pre-settlement inspection two weeks ago he found his properties had been downsized and are "significantly smaller" than the marketing material and the original strata plan.

"I found a severe shortening and redesign of the courtyard," he said.

"The diagrams relied upon when purchasing the property purported to show courtyard areas ranging between 44 to 56sqm, depending on the lot.

"After measuring the areas I found as total area of just over 30sqm, being a variance of greater than five per cent.

"The rear balcony has been shortened by six-metres in length," he said.

"My measurements show Apartment 9B has a total interior of 84.17sqm and balcony of 33.54sqm, meaning a total apartment size of 117.7sqm. The strata plan states 136sqm, which means the apartment is 18.29sqm less than the plan or 13.5 per cent undersize.

"I have spoken to other purchasers that have had the entire apartment reconfigured and purchasers are not happy."

Mr Flinn said developer JQZ are taking a hard line approach to issues raised with very short replies to vendors.

"They seem to be trying to bluff purchasers into accepting the smaller apartments," Mr Flinn said.

His measurements showed that apartment 9C was 7.1 per cent undersize, and Apartment 9D 7.35 per cent undersize.

Lawyers for the developers advised Mr Flinn's legal representative that the areas of the properties had not been reduced by five per cent.

According to condition 36.4 of the contract, "The purchaser shall refer to the area of the property shown in the draft strata plan instead of the area of the courtyard."

The total interior of the apartments, as measured by Mr Flinn, are 84.17sqm, 84.19sqm and 84.17sqm.

Mr Flinn said JQZ emailed a revised floor plan adding car spaces and storage to the overall square-metres.

"When we purchased the property the car space and storage box provisions were not included in the original strata plan and marketing materials."

A spokesperson for JQZ said, "When selling off the plan lots, developers need some flexibility in the construction of the apartments as in most cases approvals are yet to be obtained and the details of Council's requirements are yet to be ascertained.

"Consequently, developers do not promise purchasers that the layout or configuration of the lot will not change but JQZ do promise, and this is included in the contract, that if there is a substantial reduction in the size of the lot or the location of the lot, the purchaser can cancel their contract and obtain a full refund of their deposit.

"JQZ's promises are in writing and will be honoured.

"With Ramsgate Park, in complying with Council's requirements, we needed to make some minor changes to the configuration or layout of some lots, however there were no material reduction in size of the lots.

"If there was, the purchaser would have their rights under the contract.

"As the plan is not registered yet and settlement of contracts is yet to be notified, there is no breach of contract and there is no change to notify.

"Under JQZ contracts, if there was a material and adverse change in the lot being purchased, the purchaser has a right to cancel their contract and obtain a full refund.

"Also, most lots already include a car space and storage space - this is usually already included in the title for the lot when the plan is registered."

Mr Flinn said he purchased in good faith relying on the information provided. He believes up to 40 per cent of purchasers could be impacted.

"There's the dream and then there's the reality," he said.