In the July edition of our newsletter, we bring you the latest information on the strata sector in Australia, showcasing recent case studies, industry updates and top tips.
NCAT Enforces By-Laws
In a strata scheme in Wollstonecraft, the owners corporation established a by-law granting a lot owner the privilege to construct a pergola in their courtyard. This recent NCAT case conveys what happens when the owners corporation ignores a by-law breach.
When the pergola was built, the lot owner argued it was too high and did not comply with the by-law. The pergola was built over 3.21m above the floor, exceeding the permitted height of 2.7m. Another neighbouring lot owner sued the owners corporation to remove or modify the pergola, but they were unwilling to force the lot owner to make changes.
NCAT possessed the authority to issue an order to resolve the complaint regarding the failure of the owners corporation to enforce a by-law. They conveyed that there would be a valid justification for issuing an order if an owners corporation has the discretion to enforce a by-law but chooses not to do so.
NCAT concluded that the owners corporation’s failure to address the lot owner’s non-compliance meant that an order to enforce the by-law was required by them.
NCAT ordered the owners corporation to have the lot owner reduce the height of the pergola. However, the owners corporation was given 6 months to comply and the lot owner had the chance to apply for approval to amend the by-law and allow the pergola to remain at a height of 3.21m above the courtyard floor.
This is the first time NCAT has urged an owners corporation to enforce its by-laws. This case raises questions about what steps an owners corporation needs to take to enforce by-laws and what actions to take if owners ignore orders.
Advocating for Owners Rights
Premium Strata is working with Australian Apartment Advocacy (AAA) to ensure that lot owners are supported in the event that a builder faces bankruptcy.
AAA has commenced a petition calling for the insurance of lot owners in four-storey apartments so that they can be protected during this incident.
Join us by signing the petition and together let’s reach our goal of 10,000 supporters! Click here to make a difference and have your say – Your voice matters.
Polytec Design Awards
Our office has been selected as a finalist for this year’s Polytec Design Awards!
Our office is based in Mascot and we have been here since 2018. We are very proud to see our office listed as part of these awards. If you would like to vote, please see the submission of our office here
We would appreciate your support
Soaring Strata Fees
Apartment owners face a 15-20% increase in strata fees, surpassing inflation, due to rising costs of insurance, utilities and maintenance. This is in addition to mortgage repayment hikes.
Insurance costs and levies for electricity and gas have risen significantly. The rise in insurance costs comes as a result of increased expenses in labor and construction materials.
Some buildings are behind on maintenance due to lower cash inflow in their capital works fund. Strata levies have increased by up to 40% in the past year and due to the spike in fees, Owners are hesitant to go public due to concerns around the property resale value.
Existing defects is another growing issue with these expenses. A 2021 report found that 39% of apartment buildings in NSW built between 2014 and 2020 had serious defects, with the most common being waterproofing (23%), fire safety (14%) and structural issues (10%).
There has also been a common trend with smaller buildings having higher strata fees as they are unable to take on the additional costs around insurance, repairs, maintenance and utilities.
Quick Tips to Decrease your Strata Levies
Here are some efficient ways an owners corporation can collectively reduce expenses and lower strata levies:
- Consider installing solar panels and LED lights in common areas
- Negotiate bulk service agreements for essential services to secure lower rates
- Review your insurance costs regularly
- Audit assets to ensure everything is working efficiently
Employee of the Month
To recognize the hard work and dedication of our staff, we have introduced our ‘Employee of the Month’ program. We would like to congratulate our team members Monica Pirreca and Lisa Wan.
We want to give our staff members the recognition they deserve. We would appreciate your input on who you also think should to be recognised for their efforts. Please click here to nominate a member of our team for next month. Every vote counts.
As we move forward, we remain committed to providing employees with a supportive and rewarding work environment. Once again, we thank our team for their ongoing dedication and commitment to excellence.
NSW Building Issued with Stop Work Order
A second building in NSW was issued a stop work order due to concerns with waterproofing, fire safety systems and load-bearing certifications. This comes as part of the 42 developments that have received enforcement orders this year.
The first development in Newcastle received a stop work order this year due to noncompliant construction, poor concreting and no declared design documentation.
A national survey found that two-thirds of apartment owners would not purchase off the plan due to concerns about defects. It has been reported that the number of defects has increased from 53% in 2021 to 61% this year. 75% of respondents want the developer to be held more accountable for these defects.
Since 2019, audits have been conducted on almost two-thirds of all new construction projects. This includes the examination of 10,000 apartments before construction work commenced, as well as 27,000 audits before residents moved in.
Australian Apartment Advocacy calls for audits at every major stage of development. Measures to reduce defects are encouraged, but extra inspections may be costly. Legislation introduced in 2020 made it mandatory for industry practitioners to ensure compliant designs and building work. Plans to double or triple worker audits are in place to ensure qualifications are up to standard.
Five more apartments in NSW may need to evacuate due to unresolved defects. This serves as a clear reminder of the significance of thoroughly examining every aspect of construction.
We are thrilled to welcome two additional members who have recently joined the Premium Strata team. Their skills, expertise and passion for their work will undoubtable bring a significant impact towards our work
Say hello to our new Project Management Specialist, Sean McNamara.
He has been in the strata industry for five years, spending the first three years as a strata manager. He has also represented strata managers and the wider industry on several industry and government bodies.
A big welcome to our new Assistant Strata Manager, Victoria Tsakiris.
She brings valuable experience in strata management, having spent the last few years within the industry.
Stay in Touch
If you are a client of Premium Strata, we would greatly appreciate if you could leave us a google review of your positive experience about our team and work. If you have any feedback or require any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.