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22/03/2020 at 12:11 am #49053chesswoodFlatchatter
The smooth operation of our small residential plan has at least once been thwarted by conveyancing practices which I suggest should be reviewed. Readers would be aware that such plans operate on funds levied from owners; these levies are generally made every 3 months. We employ a large strata management firm who issue levy notices to owners, either by e-mail or by post at the option of each owner.
Section 76 of the Interpretation Act 1987 provides that postal notices must be sent seven business days before they need to be delivered. While that does not apply to e-mail, the e-mailed notices are sent simultaneously because it is obviously simpler for the manager to have a single mailout. We had an instalment due on 1st January 2020; the levy notices were issued on 20 November.
Section 22 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 describes the notice which purchasers of strata lots (in practice, their solicitors or other conveyancers) give to the Owners Corporation. There is no requirement that this notice be given immediately upon purchase or at any particular time. Our manager tells me it is not unusual for such notices to arrive a month after settlement or not to arrive at all unless requested. Requesting is problematic, simply because the manager does not know who to request until the purchasers identify themselves. Sometimes no-one knows that a particular lot has been sold.
As an experiment recently, we wrote to the vendor’s solicitor shortly after sale of one of our units at a well-publicised auction. We asked for particulars of the purchaser’s conveyancer. There was no reply.
There are generally 42 days between contract and settlement. Add a month’s delay for the s.22 notice, allow for levy notices issuing 42 days before they are due and it is apparent that notices frequently reach vendors around settlement time but are not due until well after settlement. Vendors generally don’t forward these notices to purchasers.
Some time after settlement, purchasers can find that they owe significant money (plus interest etc. under s.86) to the Owners Corporation. Some purchasers feel they shouldn’t have to pay s.86 extras because the delayed invoicing wasn’t their fault. And the Owners Corporation suffers irregular cash flow, which can be embarrassing.
Do others agree that strata conveyancing procedures need attention. How about requiring a notice foreshadowing sale to be sent to the Owners Corporation within a week of contracting? I know that sales can theoretically fall through but put your hand up if it’s happened in your street. Thought so!23/03/2020 at 3:38 pm #49067Colonel SchultzFlatchatter
My thoughts are if the conveyancing is done properly this situation should not occur. The vendor pays any overdue interest outlined in the S.184 certificate adjusted accordingly at settlement. Normally the purchaser will pay any remainder of levies due up the next levy date.
Sounds more like either a problem with the conveyancing or lack of understanding on the purchasers behalf.23/03/2020 at 3:47 pm #49069kaindubFlatchatter
Generally the vendor is responsible for all levies until settlement date.
At the time of settlement the adjustments are determined. If the levies have been paid past the settlement date, the vendor receives money back from the buyer. If there are outstanding levies at the time of settlement, the vendors conveyancer will make a cheque payable to the OC, so bring the levies paid up to the settlement date.
As far as not being notified of the new owner, that’s the responsibility of the buyers conveyancer. The conveyancer can let the OC know within hours of the settlement.
So I have no sympathy that the new owner gets charged interest. They can take it up with their conveyancer.23/03/2020 at 4:33 pm #49075scotlandxStrataguru
I am not sure how this could occur if proper conveyancing practices are followed. When settlement occurs there are adjustments made to reflect a range of things including rates and if applicable strata levies. There is a settlement adjustment sheet for that purpose. In our scheme the strata manager is always contacted to provide the figures.
And if a conveyancer or solicitor is so slack that they don’t notify the scheme of a new owner, that is the new owner’s problem that they should take up with their conveyancer or solicitor.
So – the systems are in place, and they don’t need attention.
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