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Your strata questions answered and more

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With strata communities in NSW adjusting to the major reforms that came in to effect on 30 November 2016, some frequently asked questions have started to emerge.

Test your knowledge of the new strata laws with the questions below.

Q: Will some strata managing agent agreements end on 30 May 2017?

Yes. Some contracts will end on 30 May 2017 as a result of the new strata laws.

The new laws set a 3-year maximum for strata managing agent appointments. However, transitional provisions are in place to help strata schemes transition to the new 3-year maximum terms.

For pre-existing contracts which appoint strata managing agents for a term greater than 3 years, these appointments end 3 years after the date of appointment OR 6 months after commencement of the new laws (that is, by 30 May 2017), whichever is the later. This allows pre-existing contracts of more than 3 years to continue until 30 May 2017 to give owners corporations and strata managers time to prepare for the next appointment or reappointment of a strata managing agent.

For pre-existing contracts with a term of less than 3 years, if the contract is due to end before 30 May 2017, their appointment may also continue until this date to allow owners corporations and strata managers time to prepare for the next appointment or reappointment of a strata managing agent.

Q: Do owners need to review their strata scheme’s by-laws?

Yes, owners must review the by-laws of their strata scheme by 30 November 2017. Owners should consider which updates would best suit their lifestyles and can use the model by-laws as a guide. Any changes require a special resolution vote at a meeting of the owners corporation and must also be registered with the NSW Office of the Registrar General.

For more information on by-laws, read the By-laws in your strata scheme page.

Q: Can a strata scheme ban pets if they are currently allowed?

A strata by-law cannot be harsh, unconscionable or oppressive, so a new by-law could not ban existing pets. However, a new by-law passed could ban any future pets from being allowed in the strata scheme. This would require at least 75% of the owners at a general meeting to agree to the updated by-law.

A strata scheme cannot ban assistance animals.

Q: Do owners need permission to phone in to a strata meeting?

An owners corporation does not need to formally approve an owner phoning in to a meeting. However voting methods, other than voting in person, must first be approved. This requires a majority vote of the owners at a general meeting. Find out more about alternative ways to vote.   

Q: What if all owners want to sell their strata complex? Do they need to follow the collective sale and renewal process?

No. If 100% of the owners wish to sell, the owners corporation can apply directly to the Registrar General to end the strata scheme. Otherwise, before a proposal can be considered, you need to follow the steps and meet the requirements in the Collective sale and renewal process

Q: Can tenants attend strata meetings?

Tenants can attend owners corporation meetings as an observer if they are on the strata roll. However, tenants may be excluded when certain matters are being discussed, such as financial matters.

Landlords (or their property manager) must provide the owners corporation with a tenancy notice that contains the tenants’ details within 14 days of the lease commencing. This allows the secretary to keep the strata roll up-to-date. It is an offence for a landlord to fail to lodge the tenancy notice with the owners corporation.

The new strata laws recognise the important part that tenants can play in a strata scheme. If tenants occupy at least half the lots in a strata scheme, they can nominate a tenant representative on the strata committee. The tenant representative is able to raise issues that concern tenants at the strata committee meetings. However, a tenant representative is not able to vote, and also cannot make up a quorum for the meeting.

The tenant representative is selected by eligible tenants (tenants on the strata roll) at a meeting of those tenants.

Find out more about tenant participation in strata.

 

Real estate and property industry reforms

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Reforms are proposed to real estate and property laws affecting industry training, educational and licensing requirements.

The changes are the result of industry consultation and include a range of measures aimed at increasing professional standards for NSW certificate and licence holders across the property industry, including:

  • improved entry level education for certificate holders and the creation of a career pathway
  • new CPD requirements, with compulsory and elective topics
  • enhanced audit requirements for trust accounts
  • enhanced disciplinary measures.

The new laws are currently in the process of being drafted prior to being introduced to Parliament.

To find out more, read the Real estate and property industry reforms page or Frequently Asked Questions on our website.

Stay tuned for more updates.

 

Underquoting: complaints are falling but not all agents are complying

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There has been a significant drop in the number of underquoting complaints made to NSW Fair Trading since the commencement of new underquoting laws in January 2016. Complaints have fallen from 119 for the January to March period in 2016 to only 12 for the same period in 2017.

Underquoting occurs when a real estate agent verbally advises or advertises a property for a price that is less than the estimated selling price in the agency agreement they have with the seller.

While complaints have fallen, a recent targeted underquoting compliance program conducted by NSW Fair Trading revealed that not all agents are complying with the new laws. The compliance program involved the inspection of 124 real estate businesses and 620 property sales files, resulting in:

  • 38 corporations and three individuals being found to be non-compliant with real estate laws, including licensing, supervision and underquoting
  • 22 penalty infringement notices being issued to date for underquoting.

Routine and targeted compliance inspections are made by NSW Fair Trading throughout the year.

Read more about underquoting requirements on our website.

 

Upcoming events

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Don’t miss out on booking your place at one of the following information sessions. Earn CPD points!

 Underquoting (price representation) seminars

  • Sydney, Central – 24 May 2017
  • Parramatta – 21 June 2017

Strata information seminars

 May

  • Strata Schemes Information Seminar for Strata professionals, Hornsby - 17 May 2017
  • Strata Schemes Information Seminar for owners & tenants, Hornsby - 17 May 2017
  • Strata Schemes information seminar for owners & tenants, Parramatta – 31 May 2017

June

  • Residential Strata Schemes Information Seminar, Tamworth – 7 June 2017
  • Residential Strata Schemes Information Seminar, Belmont – 14 June 2017

Visit our events register for details. 

 

The Real Estate Institute of New South Wales Roadshow

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NSW Fair Trading will also be participating at the Real Estate Institute of NSW Roadshow (2 May to 15 August).

Andrew Gavrielatos, Executive Director and Matt Whitton, Director Market Relations of Real Estate and Property, NSW Fair Trading, will join a panel of industry experts to discuss key industry issues and will present a session on proposed real estate and property industry training reforms. 

Visit the Real Estate Institute of NSW’s website to register your place today.

 

Rental bond lodgement forms

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Agents and landlords, if you need a rental bond lodgement form, download a copy through Rental Bonds Online. You can find the form under the Links section. Multiple copies of the Rental Bond Lodgement forms are no longer available at the shop.nsw website.

 

Online register for homes affected by loose-fill asbestos

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Did you know you can search the street address of a residential property to see if it is affected by loose-fill asbestos ceiling insulation?

Loose-fill asbestos is crushed raw asbestos which was installed in the ceiling spaces of NSW residential properties in the 1960s and 1970s as insulation. If disturbed, fibres can become airborne. Asbestos fibres that are breathed in can pose a risk to health.

In order to provide safety, increased certainty and support to the community, the NSW Government maintains and updates the Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation Register (LFAI Register), which enables the broader community to know whether any particular residential property is affected.

The Misrepresentation guidelines include that if a property is listed on the LFAI Register, it is a material fact. This means that, if a premises is listed on the LFAI register, this information must be disclosed by the property manager or self-managing landlord to new tenants.

The standard tenancy agreement also includes a clause to notify tenants if the premises they want to lease is on the Register.

A property is added to the Register once the presence of loose-fill asbestos has been verified. Only properties that have been confirmed by NSW Fair Trading to contain loose-fill asbestos will be added. Properties can only be removed from the LFAI Register after the premises has been demolished and the site comprehensively remediated. This online register is updated regularly.

Free testing for loose-fill asbestos insulation in Tamworth LGA

NSW Fair Trading is offering limited free tests for loose-fill asbestos insulation in the Tamworth Regional Council LGA. If you are the owner of a pre-1980s residential property in the area, you are eligible to register for the free testing. This offer is only available for a limited time. Find out more.

 
fairtrading.nsw.gov.au