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Get Ready for the New Legislation

Sunday, 14th August 2016

New Strata Laws Take Effect 30 November

Following the NSW Government announcement that the new strata laws would take effect from 30 November 2016, SCA (NSW) President Greg Haywood and General Manager Rachel Lynn spoke to NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe to get his view on the new changes. They asked him what challenges strata managers and strata owners might face and discussed the upcoming roadshows for later this month and early next month. Commissioner Stowe acknowledged that there is work to be done to get strata managers and owners ready for the commencement date of the legislation. Roadshow dates are below.

“The key is to roll out the major education program that NSW Fair Trading together with SCA (NSW) and the REINSW have been jointly developing.

"I have seen the campaign which has being developed by the agency we engaged to bring the education program to life. It’s looking good and will go a long way to helping those affected by the changes understand what they need to do.”

Roadshows will be run from Tweed Heads/Ballina, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Newcastle and Wollongong as well as major areas in metropolitan Sydney.

SCA (NSW) also wanted to know if there would be a changeover period to provide time for systems to be put in place. Commissioner Stowe stated that feedback provided to date indicated that a changeover period would not be necessary as the current lead time is satisfactory.

“Obviously we don’t expect everyone to get everything in place on 30 November but we are fairly hopeful that people will have some systems and processes in place. We will work with people who have issues to find ways to address them. Fair Trading staff will be ready and able to help managers and owners and of course there will be a lot of information on the website.

“It’s not about trying to catch people out at the beginning. We want to make sure people are on board and well-informed and that if they have questions they know where to go for assistance.”

The Commissioner said that one of the key things they want to work with owners on is encouraging them to review their existing by-laws with a view to streamlining them by possibly adopting the new model by-laws in the new Act.

“We expect that this work will take around 12 months and hope that most owners corporations will have made some updates over this time.”

Apart from reviewing their by-laws, Commissioner Stowe said that owners need to look at the opportunities that the new laws provide in the form of using modern technology to make administration of their schemes easier.

“They should be having those conversations now with their strata managers and deciding how they can work together using modern technology to communicate and inform their owners, investors and tenants.”

Other reforms that owners need to take a close look at are those around proxy voting which has undergone a major overhaul and tenants being able to vote on certain matters.

“One exciting area that a lot of owners corporations will like is that they can, once they have passed the appropriate by-law, ask their local council to assist them with enforcing parking. This is likely to be very popular.”

New laws, not just reformed laws, include those around collective sales. Commissioner Stowe said that this is a key change for the strata sector. He explained that an independent advocacy service for those wanting advice, assistance and information on the process of winding up a strata scheme with the agreement of a majority of owners, would be made available.

“This is an important change and we will be making sure the advocacy service is independent so that it can provide owners with the best possible advice for their situation.”

Key reforms that strata managers should be aware of include new disclosure requirements around the review process for contracts including the changes to the three-year roll-over period.

SCA (NSW) is also developing templates to help strata managers with insurance commission disclosures to ensure consistency in the sector.

As part of his final comments, Commissioner Stowe wanted to reassure SCA (NSW) members that while the new laws may seem a challenge at first there is plenty of help available to those who need it and information will be easily accessible.

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Story supplied by Strata Community Australia NSW. 

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