Power play as shocking contracts unlocked

In what can only be described as a solid win for strata residents, home owners and tenants living in strata schemes will no longer be locked into uncompetitive long term contracts for gas and electricity under fairly radical reforms to cunsumer protection laws in NSW.

Crrently, developers and even strata committees can lock their buildings into power contracts that not only block residents from using alternative suppliers, but automatically roll over when the contract term is up.

The state government’s s Better Business Reforms mean all the current contracts will have to be reviewed when they run out, forcing strata schemes to at least consider changing, and allowing them to do so.

Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said some strata schemes are currently bound to long-term utility contracts through up-front agreements made by developers.

“These contracts are unfair for hard-working home owners and renters,” Mr Kean said. “People living in strata schemes should be able to choose their own utility providers – it’s common sense.

“My Better Business Reforms are putting the power back into the hands of consumers so they can end old, overpriced and uncompetitive utility contracts.”

Under the reforms, automatic contract roll-overs will be stopped and future owners corporations won’t find themselves locked into long-term contracts negotiated without their knowledge.

This reform will ensure home owners and tenants living in more than 78,000 strata lots across NSW will be able to find the best deal for their budget and circumstances, or change providers if they are dissatisfied with a service, says a Better Regulation press release.

It will also be a requirement to raise the issue as a compulsory standing item at owners corporation annual general meetings.

“These long-term utility contracts might sound like a good deal at the time. But 20 years down the track, they’re often uncompetitive and overpriced,” Mr Kean said.

“It’s time to flick the switch on these restrictive deals. My Better Business Reforms are a win-win: empowering consumers and helping small businesses that put consumers first.”

The reforms are part of the biggest shake up of consumer laws in NSW in more than three decades, claims a press release from Mr Kean’s office. Minister Kean is introducing the Better Business Reforms, which also include changes to cut red tape and help small businesses compete, into Parliament this month.

Maybe they are the “biggest shake-up” – which is great – but considering this comes closely after the (somewhat dubious) “most comprehensive response to cladding” claim, it sounds like somone is blowing their own Trump-et.

You’d think there was an election next year, or something …

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