Roundup: Another fine mess as NCAT floored by loophole


Once again, the Flat Chat Faithful have done us proud by tipping us off to a big deal; this time it’s a story that reveals a fairly major loophole in the whole NCAT fines system.

Or, more to the point, the complete lack of a legally enforceable fines regime.

With the strains of Send in the Clowns ringing in my ears, I find myself smacking my head off the nearest (albeit flimsy) wall in sheer frustration and disbelief.

I thought we were past all this.  I thought we had ditched the whole “nobody important lives in strata so let’s ignore them” attitude.

Read the article for the full horror story but basically, in defiance of by-laws and basic common sense, an owner had lifted her carpet, polished her concrete floor and refused to reinstate any sound insulation, presumably because it would be uncool.

NCAT fined her $2500 but it only stuck because she’d come under the old laws – shows you how long it takes to get even a cut-and-dried case like this in front of the Tribunal

The OC was lucky it had taken so long; if it had occurred under the new laws, the tribunal Member said, only the Minister could have imposed fines.

Now, no one knows better than us that Matt Kean has more than enough on his hands without being expected to impose fines on every by-law breacher who pops up at the Tribunal.

How about newly minted fair Trading Commissioner Rose Webb? Right now she’ll be too busy compiling her Christmas list of toys that are out there waiting to blind and maim our children.  Bogus builders and dodgy mechanics don’t take holidays.  Ticket touts and charity cheats are gearing up for their peak season. Bait and hook sales scams are almost as common as internet phishing.

But enough is enough! There is no shortage of good reasons why strata needs to be taken out of Fair Trading and given either to the Attorney General’s office or, at least, Housing.

And while we are at it, can we get rid of NCAT adjudicators who have never lived in a strata scheme? Open it up to people who have served as chair in a high-rise – in fact, make that a prerequisite.

We need what?  Legal expertise from people like retired solicitors? You mean like the battalions of former briefs who didn’t notice until recently that the law had a gaping hole in it?

Fix it, Keano!

Meanwhile, the questions and answers on the Forum would have been stacking up like planes circling Ho Chi Minh City Airport (Saigon to you), had it not been for the solid work rate of our Stratagurus, Sir Humphrey, Lady Penelope and ScotlandX (Laird of the Interweb).

Jeez, there’s a thought.  Empower that trio to impose fines and then we’d see a few by-law baddies sharpen up their ideas.

Anyway, here’s just a sample from the past week:

  • Does the compulsory by-law review mean we have to update our by-laws by November 30? That’s HERE.
  • Can the strata manager just decide to run the strata committee meeting as chair, regardless of what the owners want? That’s HERE.
  • What can you do about kids yelling and screaming in the common swimming pool? That’s HERE.
  • Can the committee use “House Rules” to avoid giving us keys for the garage? That’s HERE.
  • Adoption of strata software draws privacy complaint from an owner. That’s HERE.


As ever, there will be a stack of new questions and answers on the Forum before you even read this. Don’t miss it – the next problem may be yours.

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