Important reforms for apartments

The NSW Government has released a discussion paper on reforms to strata laws. If you're an owner or tenant of a strata scheme, I encourage you to read the discussion paper and make a submission.

We are seeing a massive social shift towards apartment living. Already 75 per cent of our residents in the City of Sydney are apartment dwellers - a trend that's growing across metropolitan Sydney.

Population projections show at least an extra one million people will be living in Sydney by 2026 - just 14 years away. If we were to try to house this number in suburban dwellings, we would just about obliterate Sydney's food basin.

Urban consolidation is a solution to population growth that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

Apartment living creates community and helps house people sustainably, but living in close proximity, sharing common property and managing expenses collectively creates challenges that existing laws weren't designed to cope with.

It is absolutely critical that we get these laws right.

In June this year the Government rejected my Strata Legislation Amendment Bill, prepared in consultation over three years with experts and the community. It proposed simple changes that would make big differences by addressing overcrowding, the conduct of executive committees, special levies for urgent works and the control of buildings by developers.

Current strata legislation is complex and spread over five different Acts. The government's attempt for wholesale reform is ambitious, and will have to cover whether a scheme could be wound up without the agreement of all owners, common property responsibilities, owner renovations, handling disputes and by laws.

It also includes issues such as overcrowding and short-term rentals, building defects, levies, debt recovery, sinking funds, insurance, money management as well as the day to day problems of parking, pets, smoking, timber floors and washing on balconies.

The discussion paper can be found on the Fair Trading website and submissions to Fair Trading need to be made by 15 November. The government intends to release an Exposure Bill by mid-2013 with a final Bill to follow.

Find out more by visit the Department of Fair Trading's website - www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/About_us/Have_your_say/Review_of_strata_and_community_scheme_laws.html

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