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Social Media at meetings & Other Strata Law Changes that are important to you!

If you own or rent a residential strata unit these changes will impact you.

The new laws starting on 30 November 2016 have been modernised to reflect the reality of living in a strata unit today. More than a quarter of NSW’s population is living in a strata property so these Strata Law Changes will no doubt be a topic for discussion in the coming months.

The Property Law team at Duffy Elliott Lawyers has jumped ahead of the pack to give you this summary of the upcoming changes:

Technology at Meetings

The new laws aim to give more flexibility for meetings through the use of technology. Strata schemes will be able to adopt social media, video and teleconference to hold meetings and use email to distribute papers. There is also the possibility for voting to occur electronically through a secret ballot.

Increased Accountability of Strata Managers

Strata Managing Agents will also now be required to disclose conflicts of interest, including financial interests. There are also restrictions on the length of agreements. Under the new laws a Strata Management Agreement will be limited to one year in the first 12 months of the strata scheme. After this initial year the agreements will be limited to three years with the possible 3 month extensions able to be granted.

Good News for Pet Lovers

There is no longer an automatic ban on the keeping of pets. However By-Laws can be implemented to outlaw the keeping of pets. By–Laws will no longer be able to prevent the keeping of an assistance animal. However, a By-Law can be introduced requiring a person to produce evidence that the animal is an assistance animal.

Easier Collective sale

A new process will allow owners to jointly end or wind up a strata scheme so that the site can be sold. Under the reforms each owner must receive at least market value of their lot, plus an amount for costs associated with moving. All plans will be referred to the Land and Environment court for final consideration.

Increased Accountability for Developers

There will a greater accountability for builders and developers of strata lot schemes. Starting, 1 July 2017 the new building defect bond scheme will require a mandatory defect building inspection report and a building bond. This will enable defects to be identified and fixed early.

The developer will also be required to prepare a maintenance schedule to be tabled at the first AGM of the new Strata Schemer to inform owners about their maintenance obligations.

Easier Owner Renovations

New laws will make it easier of owners to carry out renovations by implementing a simple three tier renovation procedure.

  1. For cosmetic changes such as, hanging a picture hook the owner will not need to seek approval.
  2. For minor renovations such as installing a new kitchen or floorboards, only a general resolution of 50% of the votes is required.
  3. For renovations that change the external appearance of the lot or are likely to affect water proofing, or structural changes a special resolution of 75% of the votes is required.

Decreased Proxy Voting

The reforms have aimed to restrict the use of proxies (delegated voting rights) to prevent an individual having the power to control owner’s votes. Where there are less than 20 lots an individual will be restricted to holding 1 proxy vote. If there are more than 20 lots then no person may hold more than 5% of the total votes.

Increased Tenant Participation

Under certain circumstances tenants will have a right to attend owners corporation meetings. If at least half of the lots are tenanted in their strata scheme tenants may also be able to appoint a non-voting representative to the committee.

However the increase in tenant participation only goes so far, tenants can still be excluded from a meeting when financial matters are discussed.

For more information on any of the above topics check out the NSW Fair Trading Website.

Duffy Elliott Lawyers is well versed in all different types of Strata Property transactions, if you require assistance call our office to book an appointment with a member of our property law team.