Developers should be required to provide a pack of all relevant documents when they apply for registration of the strata plan.
In accordance with section 16(1) of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW), certain documents must be provided by the developer to the Owners Corporation ahead of the first Annual General Meeting of the strata scheme. These documents include (amongst other things) the building plan, occupation certificate, depreciation and maintenance schedules, as well as the certificate of title for the common property and the strata roll.
Unfortunately, all too often, some or all of these key documents simply can’t be located by the time the first Annual General Meeting comes around. Even when they are available for the first AGM, they can go missing in later years, as the management of the building changes hands one or more times.
“This has been an issue of concern for strata managers for quite a number of years,” Gary Adamson, Managing Director of Strata Management Services NSW and Chair of the REINSW Strata Management Chapter Committee, said. “Specifically, who should hold particular documents relating to the development of a strata scheme. Put simply, there are far too many circumstances where key documents that should have been provided by the developer simply can’t be found down the track.”
Gary explained that, all too often, developers believe that they have fulfilled their obligations when they provide documents to the strata manager when the development of the building is completed.
“This is all well and good, but what happens when the Owners’ Corporation changes strata managers before the first Annual General Meeting,” Gary questioned. “It’s not an uncommon occurrence and is cause for concern, particularly when the warranty period still applies to the building.
“And the issue extends far further than new developments. Where management of an established strata scheme changes from one strata manager to another, the original strata manager may not be able to provide all of the documents set out in section 16(1) to the new strata manager. Similarly, where a strata scheme has been self-managed, it’s likely that some or all of these documents will have gone astray.”
To solve this issue, REINSW recommends that the Strata Schemes Management Act be amended to require the developer to provide the documents set out in section 16(1) when they apply for registration of the strata plan.
“What we would like to see, in essence, is that a ‘developer pack’, comprised of the documents required by section 16(1), is lodged when the developer is applying for registration of a strata plan. All these documents will be registered on the Common Property Certificate of Title and the originals held by NSW Land Registry Services, rather than the developer handing them over to the strata manager or the person self-managing the strata scheme.
“This means that all the relevant documents will be easily available, regardless of when they are required – whether for the first Annual General Meeting or at some point down the track. Lost documents for these newly registered strata plans will become a thing of the past.”
Gary said that a large administrative burden borne by strata managers would be relieved through implementation of this recommendation.
“As a strata manager, it’s all too common to spend a lot of time chasing around for documents when you take on the management of a new building,” he said. “Being able to order a ‘developer pack’ at the same time as ordering a title search is both practical and convenient, and will certainly save time.”
Gary concluded that, at present, the process is far too haphazard.
“By requiring a ‘developer pack’ of the documents required by section 16(1) to be lodged and registered on the Common Property Certificate of Title, everything will remain accessible at all times,” he said.
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