Major changes on the way for apartment dwellers

The days of a single apartment owner holding out against a developer are over in New South Wales after changes to strata title law were passed by state parliament this week, according to a recent newspaper article.

The Business Insider Australia article reported that changes to 90 existing laws would come into effect in July 2016 and included amended rules on collective sale and terminating strata titles, renovations, defects and parking.

Around two million strata owners and residents are expected to be affected with some of the reforms addressing the small irritations of strata life, such as changes to by-laws, going digital, pets, smoking, and increased accountability for strata managing agents.

Others are more controversial such as the changes to the collective sale and termination threshold, so only 75% of owners have to agree to terminate, forcing the remaining 25% to sell.

According to the article, many groups, including pensioner organisations, have argued that the changes will leave them vulnerable to losing their homes to redevelopment.

The government says owners forced to sell would at least receive market value of their home, plus extra money to cover moving, under the Land Acquisition Act and “renewal” plans would be referred to the Land and Environment Court for a final decision, taking into account “good faith” negotiations and terms of settlement.

There is no compensation for renters.

Dr Cathy Sherry, an expert in strata title and senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of NSW, said changes were needed, especially when buildings were beyond repair “but there was a very clear risk that some people will lose their homes and the only benefit will be that their neighbours and a developer make a profit”.

See full article here

Fair Trading has more details on the changes here.