Strata communities to benefit from state budget

In anticipation of the state budget release, there are many expectations for the property sector, one of the big ticket items is wishing for a stimulus for the real estate sector and a boost for developments.

The strata sector has similar hopes and we are proud to be part of the budget lockdown on 4 June when various stakeholders get the exclusive opportunity to be briefed on the budget before it is released to the public. This is the first time we have been invited to be a part of such a critical discussion and we will ensure that the needs of the strata industry are heard and that budget decisions have positive impact on strata communities.

Having the opportunity to discuss the budget with the treasurer and other stakeholders will not be taken for granted but it is expected when reflecting on the size of the sector in Queensland. Our industry is growing significantly every year, hence it is essential that the people living in strata are represented adequately and that we seek opportunities to connect. Approximately one million Queenslanders live in around 42,000 schemes in more than 390,000 lots. Over two thirds of these are under management of SCA (Qld) members which, in real terms, means we act as an advocate for hundreds of thousands Queenslanders.

There is an undeniable trend towards two main groups that live in strata communities: young people that are just starting their working life and want an easy way of living with low maintenance requirements and short travelling times to major hubs (work, enjoyment, shopping). At the opposite end of the spectrum are retirees who want to enjoy a community lifestyle where common facilities are shared, they are close to a more natural environment and again, – lifestyle options.

The Queensland budget needs to consider these two groups of strata title residents. What the younger generation seeks is proximity to where they work. However as city centres are developed, as is the case with Brisbane, they have to expand to the surrounding suburbs to provide for additional growth. It is great to see the Newman government’s commitment to support this growth, most recently with the ambition to build an underground rail system under the Brisbane CBD and river. The cross river rail project will connect the south with the north and enable faster travel times. This project will be funded by the state and federal governments and the private sector and will boost the economy and support suburban sprawl.

Another initiative that will have an impact on the future of Queensland’s housing sector is the proposed review of how to fund the many outstanding planned projects to flood proof critical infrastructure in many areas. While the current proposal of a flood levy will be without doubt a major burden for many Queenslanders who are already struggling with rising household bills such as electricity, rates and water, the levy bears the potential to help many owners and residents in the long-term.

The 2011 and 2013 floods in Brisbane as well as the cyclones in Northern Queensland have demonstrated the urgent need to prepare better for natural disasters. We cannot continue to face the risk of losing our homes or seeing significant damage. There are still many strata community schemes that are in need of an overhaul of the local infrastructure around them to protect them from natural disasters. Any flood, cyclone or storm causes damage to common property just as much as to the individual lot.

Property owners and residents have been under immense pressure to fund damage repairs and flood mitigation projects. We know of some schemes that had such substantial damage that each owner in the complex had to contribute a special levy above $10,000.00 as the sinking fund does not cover natural disaster expenditure. Consequently, there are most often special levies that have to be raised to put the strata scheme back into a good state of repair of which not every owner has the capacity to pay. This often leads to the delaying of repairs.

The best way to avoid this recurring cycle of costs and the inconvenience of common property being damaged is to take preventative measures. However, prevention comes at a price but the flood levy presents just one solution to mitigate the risk of flooding for future years.

We are excited to see what other positive initiatives the budget is providing for the strata title industry.

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