NSW Strata Laws to Change

Clover Moore has introduced a bill into the NSW Parliament to amend the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996.

Subsequently, the fair trading minister, Anthony Roberts, has announced that the state government would review its strata laws.

Clover Moore’s bill includes the following:

Reducing the developer’s influence over strata managers, caretakers and lawyers – Under the bill it would be illegal for a developer or a person connected to a developer (such as a company that employs the developer) to be appointed as a strata manager or caretaker.

The bill would require a strata manager to disclose in writing to the owners corporation any connection with the developer or a caretaker. If an owners’ corporation becomes aware that its strata manager or caretaker is the developer or is connected with the developer, the owners’ corporation would be able to terminate the strata manager or caretaker’s appointment.

The bill would also require lawyers to disclose in writing to an owners’ corporation any connection they have to the developer before providing any legal services to that owners’ corporation. The owners’ corporation would have the right to terminate the lawyer’s appointment if there is a connection between the lawyer and the developer.

Executive committee – Under the bill it would be an offence for a person to be elected as a member of the executive committee without making a disclosure of any connections held with the developer or caretaker. If a person is elected without making the disclosure, the owners’ corporation would need to declare the member’s position on the executive committee vacant. The same rules would apply to substitute executive committee members.

Levies – The bill would allow owners’ corporations to raise special levies payable to the sinking fund rather than just the administrative fund as is currently the case. The bill also provides that if a quorum is not present at an adjourned annual general meeting, the contributions levied by the owners’ corporation are taken to be the same amounts as the contributions last determined, increased by the consumer price index.

The bill would clarify that a person who pays levies by cheque would not become financial for a meeting unless the cheque was received at least five clear working days before the meeting and a dishonour notice had not been received by the time of the meeting.

Insurance cover – Under the bill, owners’ corporations would need to increase the amount of public liability insurance cover they hold from $10,000,000 to $20,000,000.

Damage to common property – The bill would make owners and occupiers jointly and severally liable for any damage caused to the common property by the occupier and give the owner a right to claim an indemnity from the occupier for any amount of damage caused to the common property by the occupier for which the owner is liable.

Apartment occupancy rates – The bill would also impose a statutory duty on owners and occupiers not to allow more than two adults per bedroom to occupy their lots.

Supreme Court – The bill would require the Supreme Court to hear and decide strata disputes even if the disputes could be heard and decided by a strata adjudicator or the CTTT. However the court would be required to order the applicant to pay the respondent’s costs if the court action should have been dealt with by a strata adjudicator or the CTTT.

Office bearers – The bill would allow regulations to be made to set out a code of conduct for the office bearers of the owners’ corporation.

Col Myers
Small Myers Hughes 

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