Strata reforms will bring NSW into 21st century

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The wide-ranging changes to how strata agreements in New South Wales are legislated will bring numerous benefits to owners.

NSW Minister for Fair Trading Victor Dominello last week revealed nearly 100 changes to how the state’s strata agreements are governed when he put draft copies of the Strata Schemes Development Bill 2015 and Strata Schemes Management Bill 2015 out for public exhibition.

Kellie Wright, managing director of Queensland based strata owner advocacy firm, Wright + Lee, believes the reforms will bring NSW strata laws in-line with modern standards.

“The proposed reforms to the NSW Strata legislation are long overdue,” Wright said.

“Owners of strata properties in NSW have been shackled by antiquated legislation for far too long.”

Perhaps the most significant changes to the current laws are the possibility that entire apartment blocks can be sold if only 75% of owners agree and the requirement of developers to lodge a bond of 2% of the contracted price of the building as a form of security to fix any defective work and Wright believes both are a step in the right direction.

“The most significant reform by far is the one addressing the issue of aging buildings.  As long as any elderly and disadvantaged owners are protected, this is a big step forward in the revitalisation of older suburbs,” Wright said.

“It has been widely publicised that building defects in new high-rise developments throughout Australia are increasing – severely and dramatically.  The cost of these defects to the property investor can be devastating and ultimately can turn what should have been a good property investment in to a financial nightmare.”

These reforms have also been welcomed by the NSW arm of the Property Council of Australia.

"Strata is an essential part of the way we own, live or work in property – but we need modern laws to lift the straightjacket that has strangled old schemes,” PCA NSW executive director Glenn Byers said.

“We need to remove the regulatory barriers that act as a brake on the revitalisation of buildings that have reached the end of their economic life,” Byers said.

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Minister Dominello told the Sydney Morning Herald last week that people being forced to sell would be guaranteed market value for their homes and be provided with relocation costs.

Other areas covered by the reforms, including parking, building inspections and changes to how people can make submissions to body corporate meeting also get Wright’s tick of approval.

“Unless they (strata complexes) have expensive security measures blocking access to visitor car parks, they become open slather when there are no public on or off street parking spots available. The ability to fine is long overdue,” she said.

“We applaud the proposal for mandatory independent building inspections at the 12-18 months stage of a new building. This can only assist in lifting the standards long term.

“Strata legislation will move in to the 21st century and acknowledge and accept communications via the many different mediums which have been available to all of us for many years now.”

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