NSW Strata Amendments Introduced to Parliament

Proposed changes to the legislation covering strata agreements in New South Wales will make living in and buying apartments in the state more attractive, according to the head of a Sydney based strata management firm.

NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello, earlier this week introduced two bills into parliament – the Strata Scheme Management Bill and the Strata Scheme Development Bill – that contain more than 90 amendments to the state’s current legislation.The most significant of the changes includes the requirement that only 75% of owners would need to agree for an apartment building to be sold, 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.

Proxy-vote farming would also be restricted and management committees would be given greater power to deal with issues such as parking, pets and smoke drift.

“I think if you look at it from anybody’s point of view the changes are definitely a good thing. I think they’re definitely going to make life easier for people living in apartments, people who want to buy apartments and the management committees,” Michael Vumbaca, general manager of Jamesons Strata Management, said.

“There’s a lot of bureaucracy involved in strata living, and the changes to how committees can deal with the issues of smoking, pets and parking will cut down on a lot of that which I think will be really welcomed.”

For buyers in particular, Vumbaca, believes the ability to sell with 75% agreement and the 2% bond will be welcomed.

“If you’re in an older scheme that doesn’t really have the funds for maintenance and improvement, then the easing of the sale requirements are going to be a real positive,” he said.

“The bond is a real positive and it’s really good to see the government do something to protect the rights of buyers.”

While Vambuca believes the amended legislation will be a step forward, Leo Paternoster, director of Integrity Strata and chair of the Parramatta Association of Strata & Community Managers, has fears that the changes could see apartment owners hit with higher fees.

“Under the changes every time we have to carry out a function for a strata agreement we have to write to everyone on that strata policy and let them know, no matter what the function is,” Paternoster said.

“We look after one complex down here that has 50 light bulbs we need to replace, for every one of those light bulbs we have to write to the owners to tell them what’s happening,” he said.

“They’ve got this real focus on accountability, which there’s no problem with, but they’ve taken it too far to where the amount of red tape that managers have to deal with is ridiculous. It’s going to make more work for us, which
means higher strata fees.”