Property Council welcomes progress on strata law

The Property Council welcomes the Legislation Committee’s report on the Strata Titles Amendment Bill 2018 tabled in Parliament this week.

“We are pleased with the Legislation Committee’s general support for the policy and processes behind the termination part of the Bill,” Property Council of Australia WA Executive Director Sandra Brewer said.  

“We are confident that with consideration of the recommendations to enhance the safeguards for owners, this critical piece of reform legislation can now proceed to adoption and implementation,” Ms Brewer said.

“As representatives of the industry responsible for delivering communities of the future, we have a strong focus on working with Government and the community to get policy settings and legislative frameworks right,” she said.

“The Property Council has long advocated for an approach to land tenure and strata management that better meets the needs of residents and property owners and that can facilitate great development outcomes.”

The Property Council has strongly supported the overall intent of the strata reform initiative since it commenced in 2010.

Property Council of Australia WA Executive Director Sandra Brewer said: “We were disappointed that the legislation did not progress under the former government, and we congratulate the McGowan Labor Government for its timely review of the draft legislation and introduction of the Strata Titles Amendment Bill 2018 and the Community Titles Bill 2018 to Parliament this year.”

“While it was disappointing that the legislation was further delayed by referral of Proposed Part 12 (Termination of Strata Titles Scheme) to the Standing Committee on Legislation, we do acknowledge the pragmatism of all parties in deciding to refer only one aspect of the Bill to the Committee for a limited and specific period of time,” Ms Brewer said.

Part 12 of the Strata Titles Amendment Bill 2018 is critical to the overall objectives of the strata reform legislation. Creating an effective and fair termination process is needed to facilitate redevelopment of many ageing strata properties across WA to allow their replacement with more vibrant, liveable and sustainable strata outcomes.

A significant number of ageing strata buildings in WA are in a degraded condition and cost owners disproportionately large amounts for maintenance compared with the actual market value of the property.

The inability to terminate these strata schemes in a transparent way, reflecting the needs of the majority of owners, prevents redevelopment of often strategic and well-located housing sites. Termination would allow replacement with modern, better designed buildings that accommodate additional residents and provide contemporary facilities, in designs that are more sensitive to the environment and to the feel of the streetscape and the local neighbourhood.

“We are aware of recent commentary around a perception that proposed Part 12 will undermine property rights of existing strata owners. We challenge this assertion as the legislation has been drafted to provide a far more legible and equitable process for termination of a strata scheme than currently exists,” Property Council of Australia WA Executive Director Sandra Brewer said.

“In fact, allowing 80 per cent of the owners of a strata scheme the right to vote for dissolution of a scheme, with the matter then determined by SAT, provides 80 per cent of owners with rights they currently don’t have,” Ms Brewer said.

“There are numerous examples of properties that currently have majority owner support for termination of a scheme but one owner is holding out. In these examples the rights of the majority are overruled by the rights of one person,” she said.

“It is the Property Council’s view that proposed Part 12, with the enhanced safeguards recommended by the Legislation Committee, provides a much more equitable and reasonable approach that delivers natural justice for all parties.”

Strata reform will have broad community benefits as government and industry will be able to deliver greater housing diversity, affordability and choice, and make more efficient use of land and services to provide better living options for Western Australians.

The Property Council will continue to encourage progression of the Bills to finalisation as soon as possible.