Owners balk at booting Auntie out of her flat


The Auntie Mabels of Strataland can sleep a little more soundly. For all the huffing and puffing about forced sales of apartments, the big bad wolves of property development won’t find it too easy to blow your houses down.

Under laws due to come in mid next year, developers will need only 75 percent of owners to agree to sell their strata scheme so they can redevelop or rebuild.

However, according to recent UNSW surveys, the vast majority of unit owners have little stomach for throwing vulnerable individuals out of their homes.

And it would mostly be in buildings that were unsafe or in serious disrepair where the vote would easily get past the 75 per cent threshold.

When UNSW’s City Futures boffins asked strata residents whether a majority of owners should be allowed to sell the whole building, despite individual objections, the opinions were evenly split.

About 40 percent said OK, roughly 40 percent said “no way”, and the other 20 percent either didn’t know or didn’t care.

And while the general feeling was that one greedy owner holding out for financial gain should be bulldozed along with the bricks, no one wanted to see the ‘little old lady’ living on her own thrown out of home with nowhere to go.

“Reasons [for holding out] played an important part in whether people agreed with a less than unanimous threshold,” says the report.

“The was a general recognition that this group potentially represented one of the most vulnerable groups both in terms of capacity to cope with change (financially, emotionally, physically) and the capacity to be fairly represented in the termination process.”

Investors were, predictably, much keener on forced sales than resident owners with twice as many investors (57 percent) than resident owners (29 percent), prepared to consider it.

Tenants, who make up half the residents of strata, were even less in favour but they don’t get a vote.

The state of their building, especially if it was in disrepair or unsafe, motivated both investors and owner-occupiers, with more that 70 percent in favour across the board.

Even so, that doesn’t reach the critical 75 percent threshold and the spectre of developers buying units in blocks on prime sites, to skew the votes, still looms large.

The report, Renewing the Compact City: Economically viable and socially sustainable approaches to urban redevelopment is available online at cityfutures.net.au. And log in (or register) to have your say on the Flat Chat Forum.


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