Wollongong has to be one of Australia’s best locations for strata living – after all, its great weather, café scene and expanses of beach lend themselves perfectly to tidy inner-city homes. As of 2016 over 79% of the central Wollongong population either live in apartments, flats, semi-detached homes or townhouses. That’s why the new NSW strata law reforms are likely to be particularly welcome news for residents of strata schemes in this coastal city. Of particular interest are the changes to collective sale and renewal, and the new building bonds defect scheme.
Collective sale or renewal
The 75% strata termination change is just one of over 90 changes within the 2015 Strata Management Act, including new model by-laws regarding nuisance smoking, pets and unauthorised parking within strata property. Whereas unanimous consent from all owners was once required to terminate or sell a strata scheme, the new legislation states that any schemes registered after 30 November 2016 will require only 75% of the owners to consent to terminate a strata scheme. Any schemes existing before this date will need to opt in to the 75% rule. There are stop measures in place to minimise the risk of vulnerable residents being cast out unfairly, including a written proposal process, 60 days of notice to seek legal advice and a dispute option by the Land and Environment Court.
Why is this good news for Wollongong? A fair and optional change like this could see some of the older strata properties being redeveloped and refurbished more readily than before, improving conditions and even property values. Where once one resident could hold up the sale or closure of a strata scheme, the new legislation generally means a fairer decision.
The building bond scheme
The second major change affecting Wollongong residents is particularly relevant will be those moving into a new apartment or townhouse in the future. The new building bond scheme aims to eliminate an existing problem of developers skipping out on any less-than-optimal building work and leaving mistakes to be paid for by the new owners corporation. Instead, developers signing construction contracts from 1 July 2018 onward will pay a mandatory bond worth 2% of the building’s contract price to Fair Trading to provide security if any defects are not fixed promptly. In addition, a now-mandatory defect inspection report and maintenance schedule will help strata schemes to identify and request important issues on the property. These changes will see more consistent quality and greater accountability for any new Wollongong developments past that date, and closer attention to build quality in general.
All in all, we believe the new NSW strata laws offer plenty of positive news for strata living in new and existing schemes in Wollongong. If you are looking for a new strata manager anywhere from Shellharbour to Cronulla, contact the Jamesons Strata Management team at our new Wollongong office.