New national laws for co-ops                                 
 
Fair Trading enquiries
13 32 20
 

Welcome to our new look Property enews 

November 2015

Property matters
is our refreshed mobile-friendly enewsletter covering key topics for the property industry and supporting the sector with their requirements in NSW.

In this issue we focus on upcoming law changes concerning strata, underquoting and buying property off the plan. We explore the dos and don’ts of drones. We also highlight your chance to give feedback on training standards for property professionals and take part in our review of tenancy laws.    

You can access our information for residential land lease communities now the new laws have begun on 1 November 2015. Plus, learn how you can protect your business from unfair contract terms.

To share your feedback and ideas for upcoming issues simply email property@finance.nsw.gov.au

 

Your say on property industry training standards

image

We want your input on possible ways of improving training standards within the property services industry. An independent panel of industry experts has released a consultation paper: Review of training for licensed occupations in the NSW property services industry. The paper covers key issues including:  

  • entry level standards for the licensed property services industry
  • ongoing training requirements
  • how initial and ongoing training is provided
  • how initial and ongoing competency is assessed.

Real estate agents, stock and station agents, business agents, strata agents and anyone with an interest in the property services industry are encouraged to respond to the consultation paper by 15 January 2016.

Download the paper and find out about having your say on our Review of property industry training standards page. 

Attend a Training review panel consultative meeting

Register your interest to attend one of the sessions below through our events register:

  • Coffs Harbour: 15 December, 11am-1pm at Coffs Ex Services Club
  • Dubbo: 16 December, 11am-1pm at Dubbo RSL
  • Wagga Wagga: 17 December, 11am-1pm at Commercial Club.  

The panel will also hold face-to-face meetings with key stakeholder organisations for them to give feedback for the review.

 

Share your views to improve NSW tenancy laws

image

Property managers - help improve NSW tenancy laws concerning leases, rental bonds, notice periods, dispute resolution and other renting matters. To give feedback:

  • read our discussion paper
  • submit your comments on how NSW tenancy laws could be improved.

Meeting landlord and tenant needs in a changing rental market

The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 introduced comprehensive reforms to support tenants and landlords being treated fairly and having clear rights and responsibilities. These laws are being reviewed to consider if they are working as intended and how to improve and update them in light of  the changing market.

Today some 823,000 households live in rental properties in NSW. Increasingly families and older people make up this number.

For many, renting is no longer a stepping stone to buying a house but a viable long term option.

Most landlords engage licensed real estate agents to manage their properties. Landlords have a right to ensure their investment is protected and can generate reasonable returns. Tenants are entitled to suitable housing and proper notice if a lease is ended. The needs of everyone involved in a tenancy must be considered to achieve the best laws for the future. 

To have your say, visit our Review of tenancy laws page. Comments close 29 January 2016. You can also read the media release - Have your say on the Residential Tenancies Act.

 

New protections when purchasing off the plan 

image

Following consultation by NSW Land and Property Information and NSW Fair Trading, new laws have passed to better protect consumers buying property off the plan. Developers will need a buyer’s consent before they end a contract using a sunset clause, otherwise they need to apply to the Supreme Court to justify ending it. Find out more by reading the media release - Off the plan protections secured and visit our Buying property off the plan page. 

 

Reform of strata scheme laws

The NSW Parliament recently passed more than 90 strata law changes, which are due to start in the middle of next year.

Based on extensive consultation, the new laws will help schemes to manage practical issues such as unauthorised parking, enforcing by-laws (the rules that the community follows) and what permission is needed for an owner to renovate their lot.

Among the major changes are safeguards to help newly built schemes address unresolved building defects early. There will also be a new collective sale and renewal option for schemes. Collective sale and renewal refers to the sale or redevelopment of a scheme by the owners corporation, where at least 75% of the owners must agree for it to go ahead. The new process is highly transparent and includes a number of safeguards. Understand the steps required at our Collective sale and renewal reforms page. 

By recognising the use of technology, the laws will allow schemes to adopt online tools and practices to suit their communication and administrative needs - for example, conducting meetings by Skype.    

What’s happening next?

Before the new laws start we will:

  • develop and consult on new regulations
  • provide key information for strata schemes
  • conduct a public awareness campaign to inform people working and living in strata about their new rights and responsibilities.

Explore the key reforms

For an overview of the key changes, refer to the following information on our website:

To read the legislation directly, download the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and Strata Schemes Development Act 2015.

Or read the media release - Strata Title Reforms Pass NSW Parliament.

We also have translated a one-page fact sheet, Changes to strata laws, focusing on some of the changes that will affect day-to-day living in a scheme. It can be downloaded in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and English from our Reform of strata laws page. 

 

New laws underway for land lease communities  

image

From disclosure documents to site fee increases and managing disputes, our Residential land lease community home owners website information will guide you through the multiple aspects of moving into, living in and leaving a residential park (now termed ‘residential land lease communities’). With new reforms applying to the sale of homes, voluntary sharing arrangements and code of conduct rules, make sure you know what’s required.  

 

Unpack underquoting requirements 

image

With new underquoting laws starting 1 January 2016, agents are preparing for their new requirements. 

The Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW) is holding information sessions and you can speak with a Fair Trading representative there. Check the upcoming REINSW underquoting sessions to book in before they book out! For more information on the changes, visit our Underquoting reforms page. 

 

To drone or not to drone?...  

image

As real estate advertising continues to advance, some agents are using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) commonly known as drones, to photograph or video properties for sale. As these advanced flying gadgets become ever more popular, agents should be aware of how their actions could raise concerns, and how to limit these.

Safety

Agents should be aware of laws relating to their line of work and the same applies when it comes to using drones. Check the drone operator is insured and is properly licensed, as all UAV Operators must be certified by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Using unlicensed operators can leave you liable for privacy and aviation guideline breaches, as well as other matters.

Privacy

While some neighbours may not care that your drone is hovering around with the ability to take images and video of their daily activities, others may not want a UFO-like object around their bathroom window with a camera attached to it! Inform neighbours of filming and work through any issues they may have before you operate a drone.

For further information on operating a UAV or to find a certified UAV operator visit the Civil Aviation Safety Authority website.

Other related advertising guidelines

When marketing a property for sale, remember that photographs of the property (both outside and inside) must not be misleading.

Agents must ensure that any claims made about any property or land in any photographic representations and advertising are accurate and do not give prospective buyers the wrong impression. Statements accompanying photographs about the views and facilities available in a local area must not be false or misleading.

For more information visit our Advertising guidelines page. 

 

New law protects small businesses from unfair contract terms  

image

Has another business offered you a standard form contract? Or do you offer standard form contracts to other businesses? If so, be aware of a new law protecting small businesses from unfair contract terms.

The law applies to standard form contracts entered into or renewed on or after 12 November 2016 where:

  • at least one of the businesses employs less than 20 people, and
  • the price of the contract is no more than $300,000, or $1 million if the contract is for more than 12 months.

This law doesn’t apply to terms that set the price to be paid under a contract, however.

A term may be unfair if it:

  • causes significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations
  • is not necessary to protect the business interests of a party
  • would cause harm to a small business if it were relied on.

Examples of terms that may be unfair include ones that:

  • allow one business, but not the other, to change or cancel the contract, or to limit or avoid their obligations
  • penalise one business, but not the other, for breaching the contract.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and state and territory offices of fair trading, will enforce this law. If the court finds a term unfair, that particular term will be void and treated as if it never existed, but the rest of the contract will remain in effect.

If you offer or receive standard form contracts, visit the ACCC website to help you start reviewing your terms and conditions, and to be able to spot a term that could be unfair and protect your business under the new law. 

 
fairtrading.nsw.gov.au