Strata laws under scrutiny in NSW after waves of complaints - triSearch

Strata laws under scrutiny in NSW after waves of complaints

By Alex Mitchell, AAP

Dodgy agents managing apartment and townhouse blocks are in the firing line, as NSW becomes the latest state to overhaul strata legislation.

The state government has proposed a string of changes to strata laws, which manage key decision-making in shared property blocks, seeing it as another avenue to solve the housing crisis.

The reforms followed 965 complaints about strata agents in the five years to 2023, with most revolving around rules of conduct or budgets, levies or finances.

Breaching existing disclosure requirements around commissions would be met with a harsher penalty, conflict-of-interest disclosure obligations would be stronger and agents would be banned from getting commission on insurance products if they don’t find residents the best deal.

NSW Fair Trading will be granted better enforcement and compliance powers, with the government believing the changes will ensure residents no longer have to feel like their agents are ripping them off.

“We want to change the perception that strata managing agents easily, and readily, take advantage of owners by significantly increasing the consequences for those who do the wrong thing,” Fair Trading Minister Anoulack Chanthivong said.

“The new laws are designed to take immediate action to help restore confidence in living and investing in strata schemes, ensuring more people consider apartment living as a housing option.” 

Apartment living will have a big role to play in solving the NSW housing crisis with higher-density living planned to curb considerable recent urban sprawl.

The government said it will bring its changes to parliament later this year, after it consults with key stakeholders like the Owners Corporation Network and Strata Community Association on draft laws.

“As peak body for strata owners the Owners Corporation Network welcomes more stringent regulation of strata managing agents and service providers,” said Executive Director Karen Stiles.

“Predatory practices in the strata sector have cost NSW consumers dearly.

“We congratulate the Minister for taking decisive action to stamp out poor practices, and urge him to arm the Strata & Property Services Commissioner with the powers he requires to protect these vulnerable people throughout the strata living lifecycle.”

The changes in NSW follow updates to strata rules in Queensland at the end of last year. These included amendments to rules on smoking, towing vehicles, strata scheme termination, and pet ownership.

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