This is my fourth preparation for major strata law change; one in Queensland, one in Victoria, the most recent in the ACT and in 22 days, Australia’s largest strata market, New South Wales.
There is something about this one that’s different. The others were met almost with indifference by the industry, certainly by the the body of owners. Change happened, people got on with it and ultimately nothing really changed.
On the lead up to this commencement the NSW strata market is restless. Strata managers are scrambling to fix month-to-month contracts before commencement day otherwise they will terminate even against the will of the parties six months later. Meetings are being called by strata managers using delegated powers to lock in long term contracts without allowing strata committees to test the market. There will be applications lodged later to set these aside.
The other area of restlessness is outstanding maintenance and repairs. For procrastinating strata committees there is growing awareness that the game is almost up. Long suffering owners with mould and water penetration are gearing up for legal action come 30 November 2016 when they get a statutory right to sue their owners corporation for damages. Strata committees facing these actions are looking for scapegoats; but this won’t help because their liability will be strict and absolute. If something is broken and not fixed they will be liable unless action is being taken against a builder or developer and the repairs are not affecting health and safety.These two reforms will be game changers for strata managers.
Those that manage these matters well will prosper. Those that don’t will die.