July 12, 2024

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Customers of troubled home builder Nicheliving facing financial hardship as bills pile up

4 min read

In short:

Nicheliving customer Cindy Richardson says she is overwhelmed with costs, including rent, mortgage and rates due to the long delays completing her house.

She has applied to access her superannuation on hardship grounds but was rejected.

What’s next?

WA Commerce Minister Sue Ellery is in talks with the company about resolving the long completion delays many customers are facing.

When Cindy Richardson signed up Perth home builder Nicheliving to build a new home in the Perth suburb of Tapping more than three and a half years ago it was meant to be a fresh start.

The project by the troubled builder still has no roof or second floor and is long past the scheduled completion date.

Ms Richardson, a single mother, is now working two jobs while struggling to pay rent as well as the mortgage and rates on the unfinished house.

“My rent has to be paid straight away, I’ve got my mortgage to pay, rates, my daughter needs to go to the dentist, which I can’t afford,” she told Michelle Stanley on ABC Radio Perth.

“I can’t seem to get in front.”

A woman stands in front of a house that is under construction.

Cindy Richardson was told the house would be ready by June.(ABC Radio Perth: Alicia Hanson)

Ms Richardson’s most recent mortgage payment was due two days ago.

“I’ve got to ring the bank and let them know that I can’t make the payment,” she said.

“There’s a chance that the bank will go no more and I’ll just lose everything — everything.

“And then what do I do? Where do I start from now?”

Ms Richardson said she recently tried to access her superannuation on hardship grounds, but was rejected because she was not receiving unemployment benefits.

She is planning to reapply on compassionate grounds and says if that is unsuccessful she may be facing bankruptcy.

“I’ve just got to keep trying because I’ve got nothing else,” Ms Richardson said.

“Otherwise, I’ll end up losing everything.”

The interior of a house under construction.

Inside the incomplete home at the Nicheliving Tapping development.(ABC Radio Perth: Alicia Hanson)

Minister awaiting data

Hundreds of Nicheliving customers whose homes are years past their scheduled completion dates have been pleading with regulators and Commerce Minister Sue Ellery to intervene.

Ms Ellery held a meeting with Nicheliving directors two weeks ago but so far there has been no word on what is happening with their houses.

“Following my meeting with senior management at Nicheliving, my office has requested more information from the company, which we are still waiting for,” she said in a statement.

“This includes data on the status of projects they have underway.

“I’m advised I’ll be receiving that information this week.

“I’ll be able to get a clear picture of the company once I get that data and compare it with what information the Building Commissioner has.

“The priority for us is to get clients into their homes as quickly as possible.”

A middle-aged woman stands at the site of a home under construction, looking glum.

Cindy Richardson says she fears she will be unable to afford to drive to work if thesituation does not change.(ABC Radio Perth: Alicia Hanson)

‘Don’t know what to do’

Ms Richardson said she was in desperate need of help.

“I just don’t know what to do,” she said.

“I’m going to be at the stage where I can’t even go to work because I’ve got no money for petrol.

“It’s been going on for so long — all of us are just in a horrible situation and someone needs to step up and take over and get this sorted.”

Earlier this year Nicheliving told her the house would be complete by the end of June, but the building still has no roof or upper floor trusses.

“I still don’t know when my house will be finished,” Ms Richardson said.

“Can I start fining them? Because it’s … a contract.

“Who’s backing us up to say they’ve not finished, they’ve stuffed up on their contract?”

She said the emotional and financial stress was enormous.

“Work and my family have been really good, but there’s not a lot anyone can do,” Ms Richardson said.

“I appreciate [the support] because it’s really, really tough.

“I never thought I’d be in this situation.”

Mornings is live on ABC Radio Perth every weekday from 8:30-11am. Tune in on 720AM, digital radio or the ABC Listen app.

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