From the Forum: Tribunal exposed as toothless tiger


I’m getting slightly ahead of the news here, but in the coming days there will probably be a story online about the massive loophole in the current strata laws that allows NCAT, the Tribunal, to issue orders, but doesn’t give them the power or penalties to enforce them.

Incredibly (not!) some strata schemes that have had orders made against them have decided to just ignore them.  Who’da thunk it?  By the way, this issue has been known about for more than two years.

It seems that the Tribunal is even more of a toothless tiger than it was back in the day when retired solicitors (aka Members) who’d never set foot inside a strata scheme would routinely find against executive committees because they felt every individual had the right to behave like a selfish dickhead in their own home.

But one aspect of this story – which first came to light right here in our Forum – offers a glimmer of hope.

The strata scheme where our reader suffered the frustration of getting NCAT orders that turned out to mean nothing when they were ignored, has been put under compulsory strata management.

The compulsorily appointed strata manager is now fulfilling the terms of the orders, as they must.

Now, we understand that it takes a while to change the laws, especially when our Fair Trading minister is running around trying to deal with crumbling buildings and potential towering infernos of inflammable cladding covered high-rises.

So here’s a temporary fix for the meaningless orders snafu, and it’s one that could be implemented with a phone call.

Kevin Anderson should ask Attorney General Mark Speakman, his counterpart at the Department of Justice (which looks after NCAT), to instruct its Members to put any strata scheme that ignores Tribunal orders under compulsory management for at least a year.

Right now, shady lawyers are instructing their dodgy strata clients that they can wilfully ignore tribunal orders with impunity.  A default situation where ignoring NCAT orders for, say, more than three months resulted in compulsory management would fix that quick-smart.

Over to you Messrs Anderson and Speakman.  You are jointly in charge of the greatest credibility gap in strata life – the fact that any question about the Tribunal gets bounced back and forth between your departments.

“Oh, strata is Fair Trading,’ say the DoJ media people. “Oh, the tribunal is Department of Justice,’ say the Fair Trading policy wonks. Get it together, folks – you’re becoming a laughing stock.

Meanwhile, on a much less lofty note, Flatchatters are getting all steamed up about laundries on the Forum.

  • Who pays for the power when only some residents put their washing machines and dryers in the communal laundry?  That’s HERE.
  • Should we crack down on residents parking their extra cars in visitors parking when there’s no shortage of spaces for bona fide visitors?  That’s HERE.
  • Are compulsorily appointed strata managers legally obliged to enact the decisions made by the owners corporation that they have just replaced?  That’s HERE.
  • Can three out of four owners use their 75 per cent majority to push through a decision to fence off common property and make it their own? That’s HERE.
  • Should residents be paying part of the costs of grease traps and waste removal for the kitchens of restaurants and clubs in their mixed-use strata schemes?  That’s HERE.

There are a lot more discussions on the Forum, some of which have been running for weeks and stretch to two or three pages.  Don’t forget to check the page numbers to make sure you aren’t missing the latests comments.

And you can ask your questions, and answer others’, just by logging in and going to the Forum HERE.

3 Replies to “From the Forum: Tribunal exposed as toothless tiger”

  1. Sir Humphrey says:

    My experience with ignored Tribunal orders is as follows:
    In the ACT.
    The orders were against an individual owner (to remove an unapproved structure by a particular date), not the strata scheme.
    In the Tribunal we (I) asked the Tribunal member, ‘If we get the orders we are seeking, and if those orders are not acted upon, can we (the committee) also have an order that would confirm that we can engage an appropriate tradesperson to enter the unit area (only access to the outside area needed) in accordance with section whatever it was of the Act to the remove the structure?’
    The Tribunal member’s written Decision and Reasons set out how the Tribunal would have the power to make such an order but that it declined to do so because the Magistrates Court has a process for enforcing Tribunal orders so it was not sufficiently necessary for the Tribunal to give us the order we sought.
    I appreciated that the Tribunal member went to considerable trouble to consider the matter and then lay out in detail the process for us to follow in order to get an enforcement order.
    It was a bit of a bother but I found the ACT Tribunal helpful.

  2. Lowanna says:

    My experience with NCAT was not a pleasant experience. Our building has failed to undertake any maintenance despite hundreds of thousands in repair costs being incurred through concrete cancer remediation.
    Painting to protect building external surfaces and keep the value of property up, blocked and overflowing sewer and storm water, water leaks from water pipes into lots, lifting and subsiding driveways to name a few issues.
    This was dismissed by the member and we were forced to withdraw despite presenting a file of many pages including photos. The agreement with strata has not been honored and I guess we will be back for another go.
    Next time I will do it with a lawyer to represent as they will not be so easily walked over.
    Quite a disappointing experience and a waste of government resources.
    Have to keep on the strata plan to keep building the picture of a strata plan that is just looking to avoid costa in the immediate term.

  3. Jimmy-T says:

    This is now being discussed in the Flat Chat Forum

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