News | Owners Corporation Network


New laws award extra protection to off-the-plan buyers

It looked like it would be a stunning apartment in a fabulous complex, with its own running track, swimming pool and tennis court.  But, when first-home buyer Paul Pierpoint went to inspect the finished unit he bought off the plan, he was shocked. In place of the glamorous promised facilities was a bare concrete slab, and it turned out the developer hadn’t even submitted a DA for the eye-catching enhancements.  Inside the apartment, things were even worse. Such nightmare off-the-plan scenarios could become a thing of the past with a new bill introduced into the NSW Parliament, and expected to pass in November. "People buying apartments off the plan previously had less consumer protection than they would have had buying a toaster,” said Owners Corporation Network spokesperson Stephen Goddard.
Sue Williams

Developers Banned from Rorting Unit Owners

Thousands living in strata units could have their power bills reduced with the state government to ban developers from locking entire blocks into long-term energy contracts.
The Daily Telegraph
Linda Silmalis and Ben Pike

Cracks showing as Fair Trading loses friends

Fair Trading, the unheralded and little-loved corner of the NSW department of Innovation and Better Regulation has always had its resources stretched to breaking point. It’s a vital service cursed by crazy variations in its responsibilities, ranging from dodgy retailers to real estate agents, from building regulations and broken toasters to, of course, strata. Now it seems the strain of the two headline issues of the past two years – Airbnb and flammable cladding – have taken their toll. I was hugely impressed earlier this year when Minister Kean stayed behind for an hour after introducing an Owners Corporation Network (OCN) seminar, standing in the foyer, answering questions from (mostly) angry strata owners. But there’s only so much one man can do. His portfolio covers something like 80-plus different pieces of legislation.
Jimmy Thomson

Untrained amateurs running million-dollar strata budgets - and your lives

They oversee annual budgets of millions of dollars, make decisions that have profound influence on the lives of hundreds of people, pursue policies that could have devastating effects on the value of your investments and most do it with zero training in any of the significant skills required for a modicum of certainty or authority. I'm talking about strata committees, as they're known in NSW and Victoria, executive committees in Queensland and the ACT, management committees in South Australia and Tasmania, strata councils in WA and just "the committee" in NT. Surely they get professional help? In fact, about half of the strata schemes in NSW – mostly the smaller, older buildings – don't have a strata manager, and the proportion may be even higher elsewhere.  Owners' organisations like the Owners Corporation Network as well as City of Sydney Council run seminars for strata residents.  However, these tend to be highly focused on specific issues – like pets, parking, noise and defects – and rarely if ever address the basics of how to run an efficient committee. So what do we do to bridge the knowledge gap? 
The Australian Financial Review
Jimmy Thomson

Hyecorp uses "granny" strata renewal protections in Macquarie Park

Loopholes have emerged in NSW's new strata renewal laws as developers thwart the sale of old properties, defeating the protections intended for vulnerable homeowners. The owners of 42 units in one of the earliest amalgamated sites sold under the new laws in Macquarie Park, Sydney, have fought a two-year battle with the owner of three units, Sydney developer Hyecorp, which refused to sell.
The Australian Financial Review
Su-Lin Tan

NSW Supreme Court rules against sunset clawbacks in landmark win for buyers

Off-the-plan buyers today won a massive victory in a landmark Supreme Court judgment and major test of new legislation to protect property purchasers. A developer had taken a group of buyers of a new building in Surry Hills to court to argue it was entitled to rescind their contracts because problems with the development had pushed the completion beyond a sunset clause date. The buyers argued the developer was merely trying to cancel their contracts so he could resell the apartments for higher prices in the rising market. Justice Rowan Darke on Wednesday ruled the developer had not acted justly or equitably in trying to rescind the contracts. He dismissed the bid to tear up the contracts, and awarded costs against him.
Sue Williams

Airbnb liability: What happens if someone dies or is injured during their stay?

Workplace Health and Safety is investigating the death of a four-year-old boy who was injured in a swing set accident while staying at an Airbnb in Queensland's Sunshine Coast hinterland at the weekend.  A seven-year-old girl also suffered a broken arm. Workplace Health and Safety said it was looking into the death because it happened at an Airbnb — which is classified as a business. The little boy's death has raised questions about who's liable when things go wrong at an Airbnb, and what consumers can do to protect themselves from legal traps. 
ABC News
Lily Nothling

The fight back: dealing with the rental headaches from short-term letting

Hiring out your apartment for a night or two has been seen by many people as a harmless way of earning extra cash. But the ugly side of the short-term letting industry has grown commensurately with its popularity, and now there are also a swathe of businesses offering advice on how to kick illegal short-term letters out of buildings. One service dedicated solely to policing blocks for unauthorised lets, and advising owners on how to shut them down has grown 25 per cent month-on-month  in both customer numbers and revenue since its official launch in late January.
Sue Williams

Consider the human cost of higher rates for units

Changes in rates and taxes for units have impacted negatively on owners and renters, particularly those in lower priced properties. There are numerous examples where strata properties are charged higher rates than similar valued houses although the house may use up to four times more land. These arrangements are unfair. In February 2018, the ACT Legislative Assembly agreed to a public accounts committee inquiry into the way rates and taxes are calculated for strata properties. This emerged, in part, from a petition sponsored by the Owners Corporation Network, supported by strata managers, asking the assembly to return to the previous system of calculating rates and land tax. Almost 5800 Canberrans supported this petition. The inquiry is nearing an end. It received 97 submissions and heard from many unit owners.
The Canberra Times
Gary Petherbridge

How to implement sustainable retrofits in your strata scheme

Do you wish that your building could be more efficient, cost effective and environmentally sustainable? Don’t know where to start or how to get it done? Then this site is for you. Follow the step by step guide to undertaking sustainable retrofits in your strata scheme and help to transform your building.
UNSW City Futures Research Centre

Why apartment owners should avoid one-stop strata shops at all costs

If there was ever proof needed of the naivete of prospective apartment owners – and the expectation of developers that new apartment buyers don't know their assets from a hole in the ground – it was the concept of the one-stop strata shop. The idea was that you bought the apartment off the plan or brand new and didn't have to worry about strata managers and building managers because the developer already had that covered. Signing up with strata and building managers who are owned by your developer is at best lazy and at worst insane, for fairly obvious reasons.
The Australian Financial Review
Jimmy Thomson

Owners of NSW apartments with combustible cladding may need second mortgage for repairs

Apartment owners in the 435 NSW buildings identified to have been built with potentially high-risk combustible cladding may have to take out new mortgages to raise the money to make them safe.  The longer they delay action, the higher the risk of a devastating fire with loss of life and a potentially ruinous damages bill, and the more likely their insurance could be cancelled. “There’s no comfort for anyone in this situation,” warns Stephen Goddard, the chair of the peak apartment-owners body Owners Corporation Network.
Sue Williams

Airbnb set to hand over hosts’ names to Revenue

Online short-term lettings platform Airbnb is set to hand over details on thousands of hosts in Ireland who let out property via the website in 2017, as part of an information-sharing agreement with the Revenue Commissioners. The move comes as regulations for greater enforcement of the short-term lettings market are set to be announced next week. The global platform, which has attracted significant criticism of late for taking properties away from the long-term rental market, and may be the subject of upcoming rules and regulations from the Department of Housing, has until the end of September to pass on details of all the hosts on its site.
The Irish Times
Fiona Reddan

Another wild party at rental in Melbourne

A rented apartment has been trashed during a wild party in Melbourne's CBD with neighbours terrorised as youths rampaged through the hallways and robbed apartments.
Christine McGinn