Better strategies to support all stakeholders

How do we stay relevant as a member driven body when time is what we need from volunteers and time seems to be a scarce resource we have the least of these days?

How can anyone find a way of giving back to the community while still following their desired path? That is a question the SCA (Qld) board and management have asked themselves to evaluate how we need to operate. As elections to the board are opening this month, the board is hopeful that we will see new interested members moving up and taking on the challenge of changing the growing strata sector.

This responsibility is not short of importance as the stakeholders in the industry are vast and to remain relevant whether that be as a non-profit representative body or a private business, it is critical to reflect from time to time. Questioning what we do, why we do it and where we want to go is a natural instinct, yet too often we forget to assess the things we have a passion for.

We have set some new cornerstones for ourselves as we redefine our vision. SCA (Qld) leads, supports and represents the sector. We have formed strong alliances with the resident manager’s body ARAMA and the owner’s advocates, the OCN. Just recently a meeting with the shadow attorney-general Ian Walker surprised me in how far our reach really is, and how much the economy in Queensland depends on the strata sector.

One in four people derive their wage from the property sector. That means around one million Queenslanders work in our sector. So the stakes are high when you consider the sheer number of Queenslanders who are either directly or indirectly impacted by strata issues. During our 30 years as the leading strata sector representative we have always followed a path of education and advocacy and even under our new vision that will not change.

We understand SCA is a body that has earned the respect of the government and can guide the general public on community living principles.

Last month we made the public aware of our support of the Gold Coast City Council’s introduction of new regulations regarding so called “party houses” and bringing up ongoing concerns about concrete cancer.

These are issues strata communities are facing more frequently and while they may not be a big problem in every region in Queensland, as the industry body we see a need to address anything that is likely to impact on our sector. Leading and supporting members is critical to us and the best way to do so is by combining forces with like minded organisations in the sector such as ARAMA and OCN.

The commissioner for body corporate and community management Chris Irons joined us recently in facilitating a debate surrounding the party houses topic. Unapproved short-term letting in residential areas on the Gold Coast (so called “party houses”) can now be stopped due to the Gold Coast City Council’s adoption of the Temporary Local Planning Instrument No.1 (Party Houses) 2015. As of 18 May 2015 until 17 May 2016, local councils can enforce restrictions on short-term letting by applying assessment provisions for the restriction area where residential premises are being used as a commercial venue for accommodation or facilities that are regularly used by guests for parties.

The implementation of the “party houses” regulations must be commended because they go a long way to safeguarding both bodies corporate and holiday goer’s interests. While only a handful of reports have been made to the regulator the obvious need for this type of regulation on the Gold Coast highlights the frequency of the issue and the ramifications that can arise from private short term letting where the body corporate hasn’t consented to it. Uncontrolled letting activities which often are from a desire to have a higher return on investment are in the long run causing a lower return on investment due to the risk to security, and amenities.

Both federal and state governments have not shown any signs of introducing regulations to address the issues that can arise, in particular for schemes without resident managers. In fact, Malcolm Turnbull has praised the online private letting sites, as their introduction has injected millions of rentals into the Australian holiday letting pool, without a single new development required. That is not necessarily seen as a negative impact on a sector where there has been a shortage in vacancies.

Where does that leave the consumers then? We will have to continue our collaboration as strata communities will always have a high degree of complexity where a single stand alone answer may rarely be found.

That doesn’t mean that we cannot speak with one voice though.

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