They were overshadowed and somewhat stymied by the pet amendment, but now that has been settled the NSW Government can push ahead with new strata laws that will make it easier for owners and owners corporations to make improvements that enhance sustainability in their blocks.
Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson says the changes in the Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Sustainability Infrastructure) Bill 2020, which was passed in the Legislative Assembly last week, will unlock potential sustainable energy changes to apartments by defining them as non-major renovations.
That means that instead of a special resolution by-law usually needed for changes to common property – which requires a 75 per cent vote in favour at a general meeting – owners corps or committees (if they have delegated power) will only need a simple majority of over 50 percent of the vote to get energy efficient projects passed.
“We know that apartment blocks are lagging behind in the uptake of green energy like solar panels, battery storage and electric vehicle charging points,” Mr Anderson said in a press release.
“This important change will remove a huge barrier in strata schemes getting sustainability projects over the line.
“Importantly, in time these measures will ease cost of living pressures by encouraging less electricity and water usage, which will flow on to their bills.”
NB: No mention of air-conditioning as a “sustainable” renovation, then? These changes – and others listed in this story – were approved by the Legislative Council on Tuesday night.
Earlier in the week Mr Anderson revealed further details of the project, announced in November last year, to assist with the removal of high-risk combustible cladding from residential apartment buildings across NSW.
He confirmed that Project Remediate would provide interest-free, 10-year loans, to Owners Corporations to enable and fast-track the safe removal of high-risk cladding.
“Under the program design developed since the 2020-21 NSW Budget, I can confirm that by 2023 the Government expects to have helped safely remove high-risk combustible cladding on an estimated 225 buildings across the State,” Mr Anderson said.
“This is a significant, complex project. In order to make it as easy as possible for Owners Corporations to take advantage of this program and get this work started, we have invested up to $139 million to set up a project assurance service that will be coordinated through the Office of the NSW Building Commissioner.
“We will also help take pressure off Owners Corporations by appointing a managing contractor to oversee each individual project from design to final completion, to help get buildings remediated quickly and to the highest standards.”
Under the project details announced this week, a financial partner will be engaged to facilitate the provision of interest-free loans to eligible Owners Corporations to fund remediation works.
Over the coming months information packs, guidance and training materials will be delivered to help Owners Corporations navigate Project Remediate. The Office of the NSW Building Commissioner is said to be already consulting with the strata sector as part of this work.
Mr Anderson says Project Remediate will help drive the State’s economic recovery from COVID-19 by providing a pipeline of investment generating and supporting up to 3,500 jobs in the residential apartment construction sector.
Over the next few months the NSW Government will be tendering for the financial partners and a managing contractor for the program. Applications for Owners Corporations to take part in the project will open in March.