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My Strata law Review submission
spats
Newbie
18/11/2012 - 2:49 pm
Member Since: 17/11/2012
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13

If the Act specified that developers are obliged to attend these meetings if and only if they are invited by the executive committee then the problems I outlined probably would not arise.

JimmyT said

spats said
(i) In CERTAIN buildings a developer/builder rep DOES attend all ECMs and AGMs, whilst their building warranty insurance is active, BUT in order to ensure that no claims are made. They do this through lying, bullying etc. in a situation where many owners are inexperienced in strata law and/or where English is not the first language spoken etc. the developer's word is often taken as THE authority. And strata managers are unlikely to conflict with the developer. I don't see how your suggestion would help in these instances.

Just to clarify, what I actually said was …

require the developer to attend all AGMs and any executive committee meetings as requested until such times as their obligations regarding defect rectifications had been fulfilled.

So it would be up to to the EC or Owners Corp whether they wanted the developer there or not. If the developer turned up and started intimidating people, it would have to be a pretty dim EC that invited them along.

struggler
NSW
StrataGuru
18/11/2012 - 8:21 am
Member Since: 02/11/2010
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Definitely need a strata description ie small, medium and large as well as identifying the different types of strata. It is no good getting advise when it is automatically assumed you live in high rise. And diffennt problems come up with villas, townhouses as opposed to high rise or low rise apartments for that matter.

Anyone moving into strata does need to be advised and acknowledge what you can do and what you can't. Hwever, for this to have any weight the by laws should be enforceable and should be enforced.

Also when it comes to EC's and the need for training, I disagree that this should be dependent on size. We may be classed as small here, 19, but we are talking about 10-12 million dollars worth of property which in my case is rotting and not maintained. EC's need to be held accountable for not attending to matters in the complex. And as far as non resident owners being office beards, well the people who care the most in my complex about their units are the ones who don't live in them. More importantly I feel tht anyone on the EC in any capacity must not have breached a by law themselves in the year previous. Our committee only has breaches, what chance is there that they will take action when they are too busy breaking by laws themselves.

And when it comes to the old parking issues, I fear that should clamping or towing be passed it would be one of those "if the owners vote for it". In smalle complexes like mine, it wouldn't be passed as even those who tow the line would be tempted to park if their car was still there the next day.

I was part of the submission for the strata law changes. I put in my two cents worth. But was disappointed to EC only 1600 responded. That's not much more than the members of flat chat. When the majority of people I know in strata whine about it, it is a shame they don't put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, to get some real change.

Jimmyt53
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18/11/2012 - 1:57 am
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Whale said

Submissions such as the one by Jimmy T about prohibiting non-resident owners from taking up office-bearer positions on the Executive Committee wouldn't work for me as we now have only one apathetic and totally disinterested resident owner in our 27 Lot Plan, and my Wife and me don’t reside there on a permanent basis as ours was a holiday unit for our family, who have now gone on with their independent lives with their own families.

 

Point taken.  Perhaps it should be that interested residents should get first shot at the Office Bearers spots.  However, logically, if resident owners weren't apathetic, they wouldn't elect non-residents as chairs anyway. In any case, given that a major thrust of this review is to reduce red tape rather than increase it, any additional rules for ECs have Buckley's chance.

Jimmyt53
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18/11/2012 - 1:50 am
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spats said
(i) In CERTAIN buildings a developer/builder rep DOES attend all ECMs and AGMs, whilst their building warranty insurance is active, BUT in order to ensure that no claims are made. They do this through lying, bullying etc. in a situation where many owners are inexperienced in strata law and/or where English is not the first language spoken etc. the developer's word is often taken as THE authority. And strata managers are unlikely to conflict with the developer. I don't see how your suggestion would help in these instances.

Just to clarify, what I actually said was …

require the developer to attend all AGMs and any executive committee meetings as requested until such times as their obligations regarding defect rectifications had been fulfilled.

So it would be up to to the EC or Owners Corp whether they wanted the developer there or not. If the developer turned up and started intimidating people, it would have to be a pretty dim EC that invited them along.

spats
Newbie
17/11/2012 - 12:06 pm
Member Since: 17/11/2012
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Thank you Jimmy for this thoughtful response to Strata Law Review. I agree with most of what you have said but just a few clarifications needed: Re 8. on competing stakeholders:
(i) In CERTAIN buildings a developer/builder rep DOES attend all ECMs and AGMs, whilst their building warranty insurance is active, BUT in order to ensure that no claims are made. They do this through lying, bullying etc. in a situation where many owners are inexperienced in strata law and/or where English is not the first language spoken etc. the developer's word is often taken as THE authority. And strata managers are unlikely to conflict with the developer. I don't see how your suggestion would help in these instances.
(ii) Re: votes of resident owners given an additional weighting: I would support this and go further to suggest that where owner occupiers constitute less than 40% (or some such) that their votes be given an extra weighting anyway on the basis that the building is their home.
(iii) Re: tenants representative: Good idea for small and maybe medium sized buildings but in many large buildings the tenants are very transient so if a tenant is elected it should be a requirement that they have been living in the building for at least two years and have not breached any By Laws. Gathering nominations could be difficult in large buildings.
Thanks again,
Spats

Whale
NSW
StrataGuru
17/11/2012 - 11:42 am
Member Since: 15/12/2010
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With regard to the making of submissions to the proposed reform of Strata Law in NSW, I think that the people making those have done so on the basis of the mostly bad experiences that they've had in the Plans where they reside.

Submissions such as the one by Jimmy T about prohibiting non-resident owners from taking up office-bearer positions on the Executive Committee wouldn't work for me as we now have only one apathetic and totally disinterested resident owner in our 27 Lot Plan, and my Wife and me don’t reside there on a permanent basis as ours was a holiday unit for our family, who have now gone on with their independent lives with their own families.

Anyway, enough of that ….. What would work for me is a few compulsory By-Laws such as about finances and meeting procedures, and a suite of Model By-Laws from which Owners Corporations (O/C) would have to formally select and vote to adopt (or not) for their individual Plans, and then compulsory and consistently enforce those in accordance with procedures strictly prescribed in the new Laws, including for the O/C itself to issue prescribed penalties for non-compliance which could be challenged (or not) by the recipient using the Local Court’s Dispute Resolution Service, and if let stand (or not challenged) be collected by the Office of State Revenue (OFT) and paid to Owners Corporations, minus the OFT’s “commission” (take a breath here).

That was one of my submissions, and it would hopefully do away with the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT), and with O/C’s who enforce their By-Laws selectively, both with regard to the By-Law itself and with the recipient of the Notice-to-Comply.

Jimmy T asked “is anybody listening” to the submissions?

I think in very general terms YES, but only to those submissions that support what the NSW State Government has, through the advice of its Public Officers and of the Lobbyists for the various “interest groups”, already decided will be the tenor of the Reforms.

That’s not totally a bad thing as at least there should be some consolidation of the existing Legislation, but I fear that without strict administration (read enforcement) by the NSW Office of Fair Trading (OFT) the status-quo will remain, whereby O/C’s and Strata Managers will either through ignorance or by deliberate actions (or both) manage Strata Plans in a way that circumvents and/or ignores the Legislation.

You only need to read the posts to this forum to see how the existing Legislation is so often deliberately ignored and/or circumvented, and sadly I don’t see that changing much post the Reforms in the absence of strong "policemen", and I’m afraid that the OFT has neither the skills nor the arm-and-legs to be that!

Apologies in advance for being so negative, and I sincerely hope that I’m proven wrong!

Jimmyt53
Admin
16/11/2012 - 5:38 pm
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I didn't say non-residents shouldn't be on the EC – this is what I suggested:

I would forbid non-resident owners from serving as office-bearers on the executive committee.

I take office-bearers to mean chair, secretary or treasurer and I think it's important to keep those posts in-house. 

I'm not hard-line on the length of service of people as office-bearers – you would lose a lot of talent by limiting terms but it does force change and gives others a chance to learn the ropes.

Perhaps extending terms by special resolution after say five years would be a compromise.  I know a lot of buildings suffer from rusted-on office-bearers that no one knows how to shift.

scotlandx
StrataGuru
16/11/2012 - 5:09 pm
Member Since: 02/02/2012
Forum Posts: 475
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I agree with Cosmo, we have 9 lots. In the 10 years I have been here I have been the Secretary. There isn't a single other person who knows anything about strata or who wants to know, and several of them have been here for 20/30 years. One of them asked me the other day what a by- law is, and she is on the EC.
If you kick people who know what they are doing off the EC, you are throwing the baby out with the bath water.
I also don't agree that non-residents should be barred from the EC, they have the same property interest. A resident weighting could work.

Cosmo
NSW Regional
Flat(chat)Mate
16/11/2012 - 3:12 pm
Member Since: 20/10/2011
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Hi Jimmy, thanks for sharing this. You have obviously put a lot of time, effort and thought into your reply. It has inspired me to make comments just for consideration, the comments probably relate to my circumstances.  To let you know where I am coming from: our scheme is small, with funds of less than $10,000 and we struggle to put together an EC.

 

Point 1. Should the law distinguish more between different schemes based on size, usage, type of construction or other reasons? If so, how?

First I like the idea of having three category sizes: small; medium; and large.

 

Point 4. To what extent should the Government prescribe rules for all schemes?

 

I agree that a standard set needs to be available or apply by default.  A 'Mission Statement' could of course refer to other features but it should only be mandatory when it highlights bylaws and common property definitions that are not standard.

 

Point 6. Is there merit in the mission statement idea?

 

Yes.  A ‘Mission Statement’ should be mandatory for a scheme where that scheme diverges from standard by laws or the standard definition of 'common property' does not apply.

 

Point 8. Are reforms needed to address the competing interests of stakeholders? If so, what should they be?

I don't think non-resident owners should be prohibited from serving as many have much to offer.  I think the 20% additional weighting for resident owners is good and should be enough.

 

Point 12 Calling for committee nominations in advance of AGMs.

Should be mandatory

 

Allowing payments to be made to committee members for attending Meetings.

 

Yes but payment should be limited by reference to levys eg for each attendance 5% of quarterly levy and ratified by AGM.

 

Point 14. requiring minutes of meetings to be made available within a specified time after the meeting (e.g. 14 days).

Must be mandatory.  Currently at our scheme they read the minutes out at the next AGM, and no one even remembers what was said so no one objects. I would suggest ‘Draft’ minutes within 21 days. With the added provision that where anyone requests changes to the minutes that if the changes aren't made, it must be noted in the final minutes that the request was made and by whom it was made.

Point 16. imposing a minimum number of committee members (e.g. three).

Good idea, agree. Two for a small scheme, and then as suggested prorating this up for the number of lot owners.

limiting the period of time any individual can continually hold the same office (i.e. Chairperson, Secretary or Treasurer)

This provisions should not automatically apply to small (less than 29) schemes.

 

17. Do you have any other suggestions for improving transparency within strata and community schemes?

Draft minutes to be circulated within 21 days.  If no requests for amendment/alteration these automatically become final. Final minutes with (with any unactioned requests for amendment/alteration noted) within 28 days.

38. Should more flexibility be given to schemes to determine levies other than on the basis of unit entitlements?

Yes but safeguards must apply.  This must require a 100% yes vote in which all lot owners must vote (a lot owner could vote informal) but they must all vote (just for clarity including those affected).

41. Should the law require periodic levy notices to be issued?

 

Yes.  However as is presently the case an owner must be liable even if no notice is issued as it would be a travesty is some avoided liability just because someone forgot to send out a notice.

 

54. Should sinking funds remain compulsory? Should schemes be able to carry forward budget surpluses instead?

Sinking funds should be compulsory as it is a good guide.  Whether you have ‘carry forward’ or another it is all a planning tool.

55. Should the law dictate contributions to sinking funds? If so, how?

If the law is to dictate it must be by reference to the 10 years sinking fund plans.  Levys and loans must be adequate to ensure that forecast expenditures over the next 5 years can be met.  A scheme could still borrow too much and ‘go under’ but I don’t see viable alternatives.   

56. Have the 10 year sinking fund plan reforms been successful?

As far as our small scheme is concerned an overwhelming yes!

64. How do the laws around accounting records need to be modernised (if at all)?

For small schemes the current ones are sufficient, increasing or changing requirements could detract and over complicate.

Jimmyt53
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16/11/2012 - 12:18 pm
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50%? I'd take 10 and consider it a victory

mattb
Flat(chat)Mate
16/11/2012 - 10:59 am
Member Since: 09/10/2011
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Thanks for taking the time to compile this – even if just 50% is adopted, it will be a very good thing Cool

FlatChatFan
Sydney NSW
Flat(chat)Mate
16/11/2012 - 5:58 am
Member Since: 07/08/2011
Forum Posts: 156
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JimmyT said
11,000 words … but is anyone listening?

Click HERE for the whole catastrophe – and comment please!

As expected, your comprehensive submission is a great piece of work. Well done and there will be many people listening and seeing.

I particularly like the idea of a building/plan Mission Statement. 

If I were searching for somewhere to live, it would be great to know if the current owners are on the same 'page' as me.

I agree with everything else you have written as well. Smile

Jimmyt53
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16/11/2012 - 12:47 am
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11,000 words … but is anyone listening?

 

Click HERE for the whole catastrophe – and comment please!

 

JimmyT

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