I always feel for public servants asked to speak at industry conferences. Theirs is a world of policy, process and politics and ours is one of strategy, outcomes and the bottom line. One is no more right nor wrong than the other, there’re just different.
Inevitably then the public servant presenter can’t say as much as he or she may like and the audience wants. That was probably the case for Chris Irons, Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management (Queensland) speaking at the Griffith University Strata Title Conference, September 2015.
The Commissioners paper, ‘Strata title ownership and requisite knowledge – How to get disclosure and education right’, traces the history of statutorily prescribed disclosure and warning statements on land and unit sale contracts in Queensland noting it began with little, grew too much and has pulled back to less. He argues that this might be due to a changing need for paper information in a more electronic world and that the ultimate effectiveness of this disclosure and information regime might be the demands on his offices services which he says remain fairly constant year to year.
The paper doesn’t offer any empirical evidence to support these conclusions. However, the Commissioner does record some of the most basic questions his team are asked suggesting the regime hasn’t quite hit the mark for example, ‘I didn’t know I was part of the strata – how do I get out?’ Welcome to our world Commissioner.
The paper promoted me to check the current Qld warning statement for property buyers. It talks about cooling off and getting legal and valuation advice, all of which is sound but rather unremarkable particularly in terms of understanding the strata condition. I would go more with this –
When you buy this property you become part of the body corporate and have to pay your share of the common property expenses. With this type of property there are restrictions on your proprietory rights. It’s different from owning a free-standing house so if you’re not good with sharing go and live on a farm. That’s all!