The new Labor Government in Western Australia has thrown its support behind a process designed to overhaul the state’s outdated strata title laws.

In a statement, Western Australia Minister for Transport, Planning & Lands Rita Saffioti announced that the newly elected McGowan Labor Government would support the drafting of legislation to implement reforms initiated under the previous government.

Saffioti said the reforms will facilitate mixed-use development, allow for shared community facilities (for instance, swimming pools) to be managed more efficiently, better protect home owners and facilitate creation of the state’s future housing requirements.

“By providing new strata development options, these reforms will help create vibrant communities close to public transport, infrastructure, facilities and workplaces,” Saffioti said.

A critical part of the reforms involves the introduction of community title schemes – a form of scheme whereby multiple sub-schemes exist under one umbrella community scheme.

Under this type of arrangement, each sub-scheme has its own strata company, but these all operate under an overarching community corporation.

Such schemes are useful for facilitating precinct style developments involving a range of single strata buildings each with a mix of residential, retail and commercial uses as well as for large-scale strata developments which are delivered over several stages.

Community title provides a sustainable structure for this and enables a clear allocation of management responsibility and costs across each strata of the community.

Under a further reform, a new process will enable strata schemes to be terminated where a 75 per cent majority of owners decide in a vote to enable this to happen.

This is considered to be necessary in order to facilitate activity such as the purchase of run-down blocks of units or apartments by property developers with the intention of refurbishment or renewal and the creation of new housing supply in brownfield urban areas.

Under current rules, single ‘holdout’ owners are able to block such proposals even where the majority of unit or apartment owners wish to take advantage of the proposal and terminate the scheme.

Other aspects of the reforms include:

  • Introducing new regulations upon strata managers to improve strata management accountability
  • Creation of a one-stop-shop to resolve strata disputes through the State Administrative Tribunal
  • Creation of other new forms of strata schemes, such as leasehold strata schemes and staged strata/survey-strata development schemes
  • New disclosure requirements in respect of strata arrangements when properties are purchased and sold.

The new measures are the first significant strata reforms in Western Australia for more than 20 years.

During that time, the strata industry has expanded and now encapsulates more than 300,000 strata lots valued at more than $170 billion across more than 67,000 strata schemes.