Strata reform myths debunked, tenancy agreement update + more
 
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Strata reforms soon to start & tenancy agreement updated

November 2016

With major changes to strata laws starting 30 November, strata managers and real estate agents can make sure they are across the detail to help their clients transition smoothly to the new laws. In this issue, we test your understanding of the new laws by interrogating strata myths.

If you have subscribed to The Letterbox – our tenancy e-newsletter – you would be aware that an updated tenancy agreement is now in place. Access the agreement from our Forms page.      

As always, we welcome your feedback to property@finance.nsw.gov.au  

 

New strata laws almost here

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The new strata laws start on 30 November 2016.

The reforms are designed to bring strata laws up-to-date with modern living and include:

  • a clearer approvals process for renovations
  • new parking management options
  • new model by-laws – which strata schemes can use to help them consider any updates to make to their own by-laws (rules)
  • new online options for voting and attending meetings
  • enabling the collective sale of a strata scheme if 75% of lot owners agree and if certain requirements are met, and
  • new accountability measures and obligations for strata managing agents, including new disclosure requirements and limits on appointment terms.

If you don’t own or manage strata property, chances are that one of your clients will be!

There are more than 1 million people who live in strata in NSW and this number is growing.

To find out more, visit the Major changes to strata laws page of our website.

Strata seminars – book now

There’s still time to attend a free 2-hour education seminar run by Fair Trading.

We’re holding seminars in Hurstville (limited seats!), Albury and Queanbeyan. For more information, visit our events register.

You can also earn 9 Continuing Development Points by attending the Strata Reforms Expert Panel. Delivered by the Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW), the event takes place this Wednesday 2 November 2016 from 8.30-11.30am.

City of Sydney also held a packed out strata reforms forum last month. If you missed it, you can still hear from strata experts across the sector by viewing the videos on their NSW Strata Title Law Reform Forum page.  

 

Strata fact or myth? Test your knowledge

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Test your understanding: are the following facts or myths? 

1. On 30 November, the old strata rules become invalid. Owners corporations must meet right away to decide their new by-laws.
Response: MYTH. By-laws passed by the owners corporation and registered remain valid after 30 November 2016 until removed or amended by the owners corporation. Owners must review their rules by 1 December 2017.

2. Small pets will be allowed in strata buildings but a landlord still needs to give a tenant permission. 
Response: MYTH. Yes – tenants still need the landlord’s permission (although, the landlord cannot accept a pet if their strata scheme does not allow the pet). However, it is up to each strata scheme to decide which updates they want to make to their by-laws, if any. So, the owners decide if they wish to keep or change their existing pet rule.

To change a by-law, the owners corporation needs to pass a special resolution (ie. a 75% majority vote).  

The model by-laws are a guide for strata schemes only. These provide options, including rules on pets, for strata schemes to consider. Owners are always allowed to have assistance animals, such as guide dogs. 

3. Smoking is banned in all strata buildings from 30 November 2016. 
Response: MYTH. Smoking is not banned in all strata schemes. However, occupants must not create a nuisance or hazard or stop others enjoying the strata complex. If smoking is offending someone, the smoker could be taken to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and penalised. Also, the model by-laws include an example rule restricting smoking. Owners corporations may adopt it or develop their own smoking by-law. 

4. Current contracts with strata managers or building managers end on 30 November. 
Response: MYTH. If a strata manager was appointed before 30 November 2016, their term ends whichever is the later:

  • 3 years after their term commenced,  or
  • 6 months from the start of the new laws.

For building managers, contracts in force before 30 November 2016 remain in place until 10 years after the reforms start (unless the contract is for a shorter period, then that will apply).

5. Tenants can now vote at owners corporation meetings.
Response: MYTH. Tenants will have the right to attend and be notified of upcoming meetings. The owners corporation may agree to tenants speaking on a particular matter. However, a tenant may only vote if they hold a proxy to vote on a lot owner’s behalf. In schemes where a least half the lots are tenanted, a non-voting tenant representative can be nominated to the strata committee. This can be helpful so that tenants can identify issues, for example, repairs to fix water leaks affecting common property.

 

New tenancy agreement now in place

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Earlier this year, law changes clarified that it is now a material fact if a home is listed on the Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation register. Material facts refer to information which affects a consumer’s decision about a property and must be disclosed before any agreement is entered into.

The standard tenancy agreement has now been updated to include a requirement to notify tenants if the premises they want to lease is:

  • on the Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation register, or
  • added to the register during the tenancy.

This information is important to tenants because a property containing loose-fill asbestos insulation could be a health risk.

You can download the new standard form residential tenancy agreement. An addendum is also available to allow landlords and agents to continue to use existing stock of the previous version of the residential tenancy agreement.

To learn more about the register, and search for a property by its street address (number, street name and suburb), visit our Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation register page.  

 

Upcoming event 

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It’s not too late to join our Real Estate Agents Seminar, where you can gain CPD points. It’s on at Dee-why on 2 November (tomorrow), 11am-1pm.

 
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