Strata laws are changing and they will have an impact on the millions of people living in strata properties in NSW.
The new strata laws will start on 30 November 2016.
If you own a Strata property you will need to understand and embrace the changes.
Why is the need for changes?
On 1st July, 1961 the first strata title legislation was introduced into NSW.
Over the past 50+years Australia has seen a very strong growth industry emerge and the whole concept of strata living has gradually changed but the needs and concerns of strata owners in current times have not been adequately addressed.
The first Institute of Strata Title Management (ISTM) was formed on 5th November, 1980.
The ISTM represented Strata Managers and eventually gained accreditation as a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) enabling it to offer it’s own strata-related training courses including the Certificate of Registration course and CPD.
On 1st July, 2013 ISTM rebranded as Strata Community Australia (NSW) and became part of an organization whose aim is to have a bigger presence and a bigger say in strata and community title industry at both a state and national level.
SCA have had a strong voice in ensuring the new strata laws meet all the concerns of members.
How many changes are there?
There were more than 90 proposed changes to strata laws some are big changes in the concept of property ownership, others are smaller addressing existing laws, bylaws and rules.
Of the 90 changes there are 8 significant ones, these are:
3. Defects Bond* – this comes into effect on 1st July, 2017 (see below)
6. Collective Sales
8. Proxy Harvesting
*Defects bond – new building defect bond scheme will start on 1st July, 2017
What is it?
Developers will have to place a bond of 2 per cent of the value of the building to cover potential defects after completion.
WHY: to protect buyers of new units, especially first-time buyers, create more confidence in the industry and force the bad developers to have the same diligence asthe good ones … or pay a price.
WHY: to protect buyers of new units, especially first-time buyers, create more confidence in the industry and force the bad developers to have the same diligence as the good ones … or pay a price.
THE EFFECT: owners of new apartments who discover defects will no longer face the choice of accepting them and paying for rectification themselves, or rolling the dice by pursuing recalcitrant developers through the courts just to get what they paid for. It will also clip the wings of fly-by-night, one-off developers who disappear as soon as the last unit is sold.
What are some of the key changes?
- Strengthening the accountability of strata managers
- Allowing owners to adopt modern technology to conduct meetings, vote, communicate and administer their scheme
- The need for owners to review by-laws (strata community rules) within 12 months
- Which can be customised to suit their lifestyle – such as whether to allow owners to keep a pet by giving notice to the owners corporation
- A process for the collective sale and renewal of a strata scheme
- A simpler, clearer process for dealing with disputes
- Broadening tenant participation in meetings
- A new option to manage unauthorised parking through a commercial arrangement
- Between a local council and a strata scheme
- A clearer and simpler three-tier renovations process, which waives approval for
- Cosmetic renovations within the strata lot (for example, installing handrails for safety).
There are also measures to reduce red tape, such as simplifying financial statements for owners.
Please refer Fair Trading NSW website for full details:
Garth Brown’s Comments
With the huge growth in Strata ownership and tenancy over the past 10 years it became necessary to reform the legislation and modernize it to fit the reality of living in a strata townhouse or apartment today.
Many new requirements will not impact strata communities immediately, and time will be allowed for pre-appointed strata managing agents, building managers and executive committee members to continue in their roles once the law reforms start.
With the raft of horror stories emerging every month about bad strata management and bad developers, owners have been in a conundrum over how to handle major issues that seemed out of their control.
Many owners found themselves caught in legal battles over whose responsibility it is to fix defects in new buildings and tenants have been caught in the cross fire.
Restrictive by-laws kept owners locked in.
And poor strata financial management, especially with the sinking fund, has seen owners paying large sums out of their own pockets to do repairs and maintenance.
As with any legislative changes there are always Pros and Cons and it will remain to be seen how they are handled but the changes are timely and will benefit the strata industry moving forward.