By Rod Stowe - NSW Fair Trading
||A new regulatory framework for strata and community schemes is set to meet the challenges of the growing industry sector.
By this time next year it is expected that New South Wales will have a new regulatory framework for strata and community schemes.
There are now more than 70,000 schemes worth an estimated $350 billion in total assets operating across our state.
Today more than one quarter of the NSW population owns, lives or works in strata and community schemes, and that figure is set to grow rapidly over the coming decades.
The laws governing strata, must therefore keep pace with the times.
Last year the NSW Government embarked on a series of public consultations following the release of a discussion paper, looking at ways to reform these laws.
Our policy team is assisting the government in ensuring that the new regulatory framework will adequately protect consumers, provide fair, accessible and practical democratic processes, and make the schemes as easy to run as possible.
The reforms are expected to take effect from 1 July 2014.
The real estate industry has recognised the opportunities this growth market presents, and an increasing number of agents are adding strata management services to their business portfolios.
People wishing to work in the strata industry as strata managing agents must hold an appropriate Licence or Certificate of Registration under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002.
At NSW Fair Trading, we field a lot of complaints involving the property industry. Last year 14 per cent of those complaints involved strata and community schemes.
The most common complaints involved Owners’ Corporations attempting to terminate management agreements for alleged non-performance or poor performance by a strata managing agent.
Agents failing to convene AGMs within the prescribed time are cause for another common complaint, as are incorrectly recorded minutes of meetings and failing to include motions on a meeting’s agenda.
On a more serious note, Fair Trading is responsible for investigating strata managing agents facing allegations of misappropriating scheme funds.
Many of the more minor complaints are invariably the end product of miscommunication between the strata managing agent and the Owners’ Corporation, or the latter misunderstanding either the current complex legislation or the role of the strata manager. Many of these minor complaints are often made worse by poor record keeping on the part of managing agents.
I strongly recommend that all real estate agents working in the strata management area read the Government’s discussion paper Making NSW No. 1 Again: Shaping Future Communities - Strata and Community Title Law Reform on our website at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.