Strata Law Review Position Paper
In October 2015, a Strata Schemes Management Bill 2015 and Strata Schemes Development Bill 2015 were introduced into the NSW Parliament. The legislation passed the NSW Parliament on 28 October 2015. The new laws commence 30 November 2016. The main changes are outlined below.
Modern and Flexible Schemes
Changes will enable use of modern forms of communication. Voting will be able to occur through the post, electronically and through secret ballots. It will also be possible to distribute papers by email.
Transparency and Accountability
Changes including lifting standards and accountability of strata managing agents and building managers. This will involve enhanced disclosure of conflicts of interest including financial interests.
Collective Sale and Renewal
This new process recognizes the rights of owners to jointly end or wind up a strata scheme so the site can be sold or renewed.
Protections will be in place for elderly and vulnerable owner occupiers of strata units.
Maintaining the Buildings Condition
Changes include introducing mandatory defect inspection reports and a building bond. These will enhance consumer protection of a new building has defective work and help prolong the life of the building.
Current laws can make it difficult for owners to carry out minor renovations to their lot.
The reforms will provide clearer, common sense approvals for owner’s renovations. They will waive restrictions for cosmetic changes to lots such as inserting a picture hook.
Renovations with a lasting impact, such as installing floorboards, will still require approval but only a general resolution (50% of the vote) Renovations like those that affect the structure or external appearance of the building will still require a special resolution (70% of the vote)
Many people have raised concerns about the practice of proxy farming in strata schemes, where one individual controls the decisions made by the owner’s corporation by obtaining a majority of votes using the proxy system.
Reforms will introduce a model by law dealing with smoking that intrudes into the common property or another person’s lot. The reforms will also amend the model by laws to make it easier to keep pets.
The reforms will expand the Tribunal’s power to exclusively deal with most strata disputes, including orders to recover outstanding levies.