Strata laws in NSW need to be simplified and the decision-making process updated, the Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW) has said in relation to a state government review of strata legislation.
As part of the state government review, which is open to the general public as well as members of the strata community, public policy think-tank Global Access Partners (GAP) is hosting an online community consultation inviting views from individuals and businesses affected by the reforms.
“We believe it is important to simplify the strata laws to make them easier to understand, while at the same time recognise our existing and future requirements,” the REINSW said in an online opinion piece.
“We applaud the NSW government’s decision to review and where possible simplify the existing strata laws and the healthy discussions that the Global Access Partners’ open forum consultation will provide.”
The REINSW said it would like to see a system where development can proceed when the overwhelming majority of lot owners identify the economic advantages of a renovation project or development.
Moreover, it said as the growth of strata living will inevitably create an increase in strata-related disputes, “there should be some consideration given to a specialist tribunal”.
Currently, strata-related disputes are handled by the NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT). This body also handles disputes in a variety of areas, including commercial, motor vehicle, social housing and home building, among others.
“We are a society that is increasingly trading the traditional quarter-acre block for high quality, higher density living,” the REINSW continued.
“This cultural shift in our accommodation preferences needs to be supported by a contemporary legislative framework. Accordingly it is appropriate that the existing strata laws be reviewed and tested to determine if they satisfy community expectations and requirements.”
Of the most recent comments received by the review, one focused on the frustration at requiring consent of all owners to approve the termination of a strata scheme.
“This means that, in say a building with 12 owners, 11 owners may want to sell to a developer, but one owner doesn't,” the online posting said. “That one owner prevents the building from being redeveloped. This has got to change!”
Another requested that all strata occupants, “whether they be tenants renting or owner occupiers of strata units, be invited to attend all meetings, not only to bring everyone up to date on [their] obligations to each other when living in a strata unit complex, but for each to be able to discuss [their] concerns and have feedback provided.
“This would have the effect of eliminating the disputes that arise when people are not adequately informed of [their] obligation to each other when living in strata unit complex.
“Units that are rented by real estate agents on behalf of strata unit owners, who rarely attend body corporate meetings, whose interest lies mainly in financial gain, fail to provide [tenants] of [information about the] by laws in place, or what areas are common property, and what are not…by inviting rental tenants to attend meetings, [it] might have the effect of making people feel included and members of a complex that values input from everyone, thereby reducing the problems associated with strata disputes.”
Another comment urged strata meetings to be held on the weekends, making it easier for working people to attend.
Comments can be submitted until 29 February, and can be made at www.openforum.com.au