New South Wales has modernised its strata laws to reflect the realities of 21st century life. According to Prudential Investment Company of Australia (PICA), the laws are expected to come into effect on 30 November 2016, and should set the pace of change for the industry as a whole.

The changes include relaxed requirements for attending general and committee meetings as well as voting. Moreover, owners can now use conference calls and video conferencing to participate in meetings, which removes the need for proxies.

This should spell good news for investor owners, notes Greg Nash, managing director and group chief executive officer of PICA. “Investor owners who don’t live in or near their property will now be able to participate in meetings more easily without the expense and inconvenience of travel. They can keep a better eye on their investment and be more involved in decision-making,” he said.

“For strata managers, being able to use modern technology to communicate will increase productivity and efficiency, enabling urgent matters to be addressed offsite if necessary. Plus, the challenges of coordinating schedules become less of an issue since investors no longer have to travel for meetings.”

The updated strata laws also change the way meeting notifications are sent. Currently, meeting notices must be sent via post, or if there are existing by-laws, they must be sent by email. The postal address must be located in Australia, which creates unnecessary red tape for foreign investors. When the new legislation takes effect, by-laws will no longer be necessary for meeting notices to be sent via email, which makes it easier for people to keep track of notices.

As some people still prefer to receive meeting notifications via post, this will remain an option. According to Nash, the updated laws are simply taking advantage of the way communications technology has streamlined processes.

This also means strata management companies will need to invest in new technologies, such as video conferencing and unified communications solutions.

“PICA has invested heavily in a property services online platform that offers options for people to communicate in the way that suits them. It also includes a self-service capability so that owners no longer have to contact the strata manager to keep informed of repairs and maintenance progress,” said Nash.

He affirmed that the new NSW legislation was bound to influence the industry in a positive way, as it raises the professionalism of strata managers and makes it easier for them to manage the owners’ interests.

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