More delays in NSW strata reforms

NSW strata title owners may have to wait even longer for reforms of legislation as a result of previous fair trading minister Matthew Mason-Cox being overlooked for the position in Mike Baird’s new cabinet.

Inquiries by Domain revealed that the NSW government’s fourth fair trading minister in just over 15 months will be Ryde MP Victor Dominello (pictured). Fair Trading will continue to operate as a separate entity within the departmental “cluster” of finance and service, a spokesman said, but as part of a new super ministry called Finance, Services and Innovation.

Strata Community Australia has urged Mr Dominello to get on with strata reforms, supposed to have been in place by July last year, as immediate priority.

“SCA (NSW) welcomes the new minister and a refresh of the fair trading portfolio to innovation and better regulation,” said Greg Haywood, president, Strata Community Australia (NSW). “However, there can’t be better regulation with outdated legislation and so we yet again implore the NSW government to introduce the new Strata Bill which has been gathering dust for the past 12 months.

“When do we want change? We want it a year ago.”

Sydney strata lawyer Stephen Goddard, chairman of the Owners Corporation Network, told Domain, “I fear the rolling of strata issues out of a minor ministry into a new generic super portfolio could mean strata law reform will disappear into the political past without a trace. Solving the issues of building defects in the strata space comes a poor second to the government’s focus on strata schemes as a stimulus for housing and economic growth.”

One of the reforms now likely up to be held up is forced sales of apartment blocks to developers that would have seen the current requirement that 100 per cent of apartment owners agree to sell their buildings reduced to 75 per cent.

Mr Goddard told Domain, “I seek the assurance of the premier that his government is committed to implementing the legislative reform outlined in the Strata Law Reform Issues Paper published in October, 2013.”

A spokesman for the minister told Domain, “As the minister responsible for fair trading, Mr Dominello has already met with consumer advocates Choice. Next week he will be meeting with representatives of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, the Housing Industry Association and the Tenants Union of NSW.

“Work on the strata title and community scheme reforms will progress further once the minister has had the chance to consult with relevant stakeholders as well as his ministerial and parliamentary colleagues.”

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