Over the weekend I had the pleasure of addressing the Australian Institute of Conveyancers NSW Division annual conference.
The topic was ‘What Purchasers Really Need to Know When Buying a Strata Apartment’. For the purpose of the exercise I had a colleague from another firm randomly select a strata inspection report for a recent conveyance and I put it under the microscope as if I was looking for someone to sue for the many things that were wrong with the apartment block. It was a fascinating exercise.
Amongst my findings were:
- Policies on pets, parking and privileges were unclear and the information in the inspector’s report conflicted with the actual by-laws;
- Building defects and fire safety orders existed but were not mentioned in the report;
- The sinking fund was under-funded by nearly 30% against the expert’s report but nothing had been said of this;
- The strata manager had not produced all of the records to the inspector; and
- The report said that a fire safety certificate had been issued when one hadn’t issued.
Given that for most people a strata inspector’s report is the first substantial piece of information anyone gets about their owners corporation, this is a sad case.
Conveyancers and lawyers get these reports and send them to the clients, often I suspect without comment and purchasers are just lambs to the slaughter.
I suspect the truth about strata therefore is that we are asleep at the wheel.