NSW Strata Law To Hold Shoddy Builders To Account

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Friday, November 15th, 2013
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Changes to NSW strata laws will create stronger communities and better constructed unit complexes, the state government says.

Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts released proposed reforms to strata schemes on Thursday, saying the changes were vital for Sydney, where half of all housing stock is predicted to be multi-unit dwellings by 2030.

Under the reforms, high-rise developers will be required to pay a defects bond of two per cent, an incentive to fix problems early or produce better buildings in the first place.

He said the bond will also give consumers added protection if a developer becomes insolvent.

The changes are also good news for renters, Mr Roberts argued, with tenants given a say on issues such as parking, parties and pets where the strata community agrees.

“This is very much about building new communities,” he said, “… the vertical villages of the future.”

Tenants won’t be given any power on financial decisions.  Also among the major changes is a move to enable strata managers to terminate a building’s scheme with the approval of just 75 per cent of owners.

At present, all owners living in a complex need to agree to terminate a strata scheme.  The NSW opposition criticised this change, saying it would force prospective homebuyers to think twice about purchasing units.

Labor MP Tania Mihailuk said owners could be forced to sell and move out against their will if they don’t agree with the changes to their building’s strata scheme.

But Urban Taskforce Australia chief executive Chris Johnson said, in his experience, it was investors, rather than residents, who were difficult, and sometimes unwilling to cough up money to renew properties.

“I don’t think we can let them ransom the future restructure and renewal of Sydney apartment buildings,” he said.

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