New strata laws for NSW to begin later this year make a token gesture towards including tenants in meeting about the management of common property. Like most forms of tokenism, they are bound to upset everyone concerned.
The starting point is this, owners must advise the owners corporation when they tenant a property. This is required because by-laws bind tenants and owners need to know who is using common property. The information is also needed for fire safety inspections purposes. There’s nothing token about any of this.
Where problems will arise is the extent to which the new laws seek to involve tenants in the affairs of the owners corporation. Where tenant notices have been given for more than 50% of lots a whole new procedure will kick in –
- A tenants meeting must occur before the AGM
- A tenant representative is to be elected to participate at the AGM and in subsequent committee meetings
- The AGM agenda must be give to tenants or placed on a notice board if one is kept
- The committee must make a determination about what information will be made available to tenants at the AGM and at committee meetings
This will come at a significant cost to owners corporations. It will also create more work and scope for error by strata mangers in meeting additional deadlines, and to what end?
Far from being inclusive, these new laws, with the ability to keep almost any useful information secret, will reinforce perceptions by tenants that they are second class when it comes to occupying strata property.
This reform will work for no one. It will alienate tenants. It will cost owners money and strata managers time. And it will hit small schemes harder than the large. It’s more likely that a half of a six pack is tenanted with notices properly given than 50% of a 100 plus lot building.
Tenants deserve respect, information, and a say,but these laws will not deliver that.