Australian body corporate management is amongst the best in the world: emerging markets in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, India and the Philippines all chose to adopt the Australian system rather than using the common-interest developments or homeowner associations more common in the UK.
For some years, body corporate management in New South Wales has been governed by two key pieces of legislation: the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 and the Strata Schemes Management Regulation Act 2010. On November 30th 2016, however, two new pieces of legislation will come into force that overturn those Acts: the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015. Both of these pieces of legislation aim to simplify strata and body corporate laws and include almost 100 key reforms.
So what will these changes mean for anyone who is already part of a body corporate management scheme within the state? Read on to find out more about some of the biggest alterations to the law.
The new acts change the term of a strata manager. At the first AGM of a new strata, a manager can be appointed for one year; at subsequent AGMs that term will become three years.
Strata management agreements with body corporate services agencies can now be extended rather than renegotiated, though not automatically. These extensions can only last for three months, however, and can only be made under specific circumstances. After that, the agreement will have to be renewed from scratch.
If you're the Strata Manager, you now need to "continuously formally disclose" any gifts, training, commissions, remunerations or other benefits you receive because you are the Strata Manager. You're also not allowed to request or accept a gift of this nature unless it is worth less than $60.
Over the years there has been some confusion in NSW about how body corporate management schemes can pursue major issues with the courts. The new acts firmly establish that the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal has been granted the jurisdiction to make orders of this nature—including the power to change and terminate strata management agreements entirely.
If you're still feeling confused, there's no reason for your strata management scheme to go it alone. Body corporate services exist to take the strain off ordinary homeowners: they understand all the thorny issues so you don't have to and help you as homeowners to run your joint property in a fair, guided and useful way. At your next meeting, why not suggest researching your options a little? It might be the most stress-reducing decision any of you ever make.
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