New South Wales: “New era for strata will start in 2016”

4 January 2016

By Kevin Zakreski

British Columbia isn’t the only jurisdiction examining reform of its strata-property legislation. Another interesting reform project is going on in the Australian state of New South Wales.

New South Wales has had strata-property legislation since the early 1960s. Its legislation has a special relationship to British Columbia’s, since the first-generation New South Wales act was the inspiration for British Columbia’s 1966 Strata Titles Act.

Late last year, the New South Wales government announced that it plans to bring its reforms into force in the second half of 2016. With over 90 changes planned to strata-property legislation, these reforms have been characterized as a “new era” for strata properties in New South Wales.

New South Wales’s new legislation, which is called the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015, will bring changes to the following areas:

  • strata bylaws, including streamlining approvals of owner renovations, improving parking control, preventing overcrowding, modernizing rules on pets, strengthening rules against nuisance or hazardous smoke, and increasing penalties;
  • dispute resolution, including a new process to recover outstanding liens and improved compliance measures;
  • strata governance and management, including increasing the transparency of the strata committee (the equivalent of a BC strata council), introducing electronic voting, enhancing flexibility for meetings, placing limits on the use of proxies, and improving tenants’ participation in strata governance;
  • working with a strata manager, including new measures on accountability, disclosure, and terms of appointment.

Finally, the new legislation also includes “safeguards to help newly built schemes address unresolved building defects early.”

There is an overview online of the reports that led up to these legislative changes.

New South Wales is also reforming its approach to terminating a strata. These changes will be discussed in an upcoming blog post, which looks at how New South Wales’s reforms compare with British Columbia’s recent changes in this area.

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