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Dozens of families lose out in collapse of home builder Bentley Homes

An audit of government land in Sydney has come up with new sites for housing.

An audit of government land in Sydney has come up with new sites for housing. Photo: AAP

Dozens of families are in limbo or out of pocket after a Melbourne-based home builder collapsed.

Bentley Homes slid into liquidation on Friday, catapulting customers and creditors into an anxious wait for news.

Crouch Amirbeaggi Insolvency Services liquidator Timothy Holden on Monday revealed the company owed an estimated $1.6 million to trade and related-party creditors.

Substantial construction had started at about 50 sites by the time Bentley collapsed, and about 26 additional clients had paid deposits to the home builder.

An estimated further 34 home owners had paid Bentley an initial tender fee of between $2000 and $9000, but they had not signed a contract, Mr Holden said.

“The company is insolvent and does not have any funds available to repay deposits paid by these clients,” the insolvency firm said in a statement.

The liquidator said owners with contracts and home warranty certificates should contact the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority.

Bentley’s director and his family were the home-builder’s biggest creditors as they propped up the company with their own money before it collapsed, the liquidator said.

Mr Holden was preparing to send creditors an initial circular on Friday, but he cautioned it would not include any findings about what led to Bentley sliding into liquidation or potential claims.

Creditors would find out about those details no later than September 29.

Early evidence suggested a thorough probe of related-party transactions was warranted and Mr Holden was investigating the merits of an action for insolvent trading.

“The director and staff were working through the weekend to help the liquidator with his urgent due diligence analysis and efforts to minimise losses for all home owners,” the liquidator said.

“The liquidator observes that supply chain (and) staffing issues and cost overruns were very common in the construction industry during the past 12 months.

“The director has advised the liquidator these variables were material factors in the demise of the family-owned business.”

Bentley, which has been operating for about 17 years, had 11 staff by the time it went under.

Its fall came after the collapse of major builder Porter Davis in late March, which affected about 1700 homes in Victoria and Queensland.

Porter Davis fell over with about $147 million in debt, but it’s unclear when creditors will get their money or how much they will receive.

Liquidation is a trigger for domestic building insurance, which all companies have to take out on behalf of customers by law.

-AAP

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