I've seen and reported on enough shoddy property builds and spoken to enough devastated home owners to know the proposed developer licensing laws will be welcomed by many Canberrans. But after years of dealing with defects and spending time and money on resolving disputes, some owners are sceptical the legislation will do enough. The long-awaited laws would require property developers to hold a licence for the first time and would also establish a public register of developers. Currently in the ACT, the Building Act provides a statutory warranty for work on residential buildings for six years for structural elements and two years for non-structural elements. In such cases, the onus falls on the property owner to bring claims for defects against the developer or builder. Under the proposed licensing scheme, builders and property developers would be considered liable for building defects for the first two years after a building is occupied, unless they can prove otherwise. After then, the existing statutory warranty would apply. Home owners have argued two years just isn't long enough to hold developers liable for defects. Take the Elara Apartments in Bruce, for example. Built in 2007, the apartment complex was riddled with millions of dollars of defects, which didn't become apparent until about 2011. There's advice about buying apartments in Canberra that often gets thrown around: older apartments are a safer bet because issues like waterproofing, structural defects and leaks are likely to have already emerged. But new apartments are cropping up everywhere and for many people, buying an off-the-plan unit is all their budget will allow. If Canberrans are being steered towards apartments, they deserve to have the confidence their home will be built to a good standard and the assurance someone will be held accountable if defects occur. Whether two years is an adequate time frame for a developer to be liable for defects is questionable. Ultimately, the feeling among many home owners and those who have advocated for change in the building industry is the legislation is a step in the right direction. We should remember the ACT government is doing something no other Australian jurisdiction has done before in requiring developers - those who supply our homes - to hold a licence. The Property Council of Australia - the peak body for developers - is using that as a reason to oppose the legislation. Shane Martin, the council's ACT executive director, said the "untested shift in responsibility" would "create a bizarre legal burden that would be unique and uniquely costly". However, the current system clearly isn't doing enough to protect home owners. The community can feel reassured the ACT government is taking a step towards changing it. At the very least, rebalancing the power and shifting more responsibility onto those high up in the construction chain will hopefully go some way in improving confidence in the sector. The Property Council has also claimed more regulation will drive developers away from the ACT. If regulation and accountability scares developers away from the ACT, we have to ask the question: what are they trying to get away with in the first place? A licensing scheme and public register could help expose the so-called bad eggs of the industry and highlight those who have a solid reputation for good-quality developments. Importantly, it could give buyers, particularly those looking for their first property, a better chance of finding a home that is safe and built to a high standard, instead of being forced to take a gamble on the biggest purchase of their life.