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“Technical” is Not a Dirty Word

This article is a little more technical than our previous one and is designed to assist you to understand the main legislation that governs Strata and navigate your way around it. We are computer savvy, but some people are not aware they too can go to a source to assist them in getting to know more about strata and navigate relevant sections of the legislation. It’s not necessarily the minefield that people fear.

In this article I concentrate on four main pieces of legislation because these are relevant to those of you who are living in newly constructed strata schemes as well as strata schemes generally.

In future articles I will deal with other relevant legislation.

The aim is to help you become more knowledgeable and be able to find out information that will assist you with strata living, including dealing with your strata manager and Strata Committee.

Engaging a Strata Manager

Strata managers are engaged by the Owners Corporation to manage strata schemes. As I mentioned in my previous article, they are not principals but are agents of Owners Corporations who in turn are agents are for lot owners.

Strata Managers Authority

The authority of a strata managing agent is mainly governed by statute, but also common law and the law of equity play a part. To find out the extent of a strata manager’s authority, your primary source is their strata management agreement.

Who appoints Strata Managers and Who Do They Represent

Strata Managers do not act for or represent individual lot owners but there remains regular and necessary interaction a little of which I discuss here.

They are appointed and engaged by the Owners Corporation, through the original developer in the initial period (in the case of a new development) or by the lot owners at a general meeting after the initial period.

Functions of Strata Managers

Because strata managers keep the financial books and records of the Owners Corporation, there is necessary interaction with lot owners. These interactions include contribution enquiries, agendas, minutes, and meetings attended by lot owners. There is further interaction when lot owners wish to make alterations or renovate their apartments. To enable the Owners Corporation and strata committee to make informed decisions, those lot owners wishing to upgrade or renovate should provide the strata manager with a plan, scope of work, details of the contractors (including insurance) and a by-law if the work involves interference with common property. Compliance and non-compliance of by-laws is another instance when there is necessary interaction between strata managers and lot owners.

I emphasise the nexus between strata managers and the Owners Corporation, so lot owners and residents understand their voices are heard but the duty of a strata manager, like that of the strata committee, is to act in the best interest of the Owners Corporation and advise accordingly. The flow-on effect of proper management flows through to all lot owners, residents, and the Owners Corporation.

Main Legislation Governing Strata

The main legislation governing the rights, duties and obligations of Developers, Owners Corporations and strata managers are contained in the following to which I have provided links:

  1. Strata Schemes Development Act 2015 (SSDA);
  1. Strata Schemes Development Regulation 2016 (SSDR);
  1. Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (SSMA); and
  1. Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 (SSMR).

Acts of Parliament & Regulations

The SSDA (1) and SSMA (3) are Acts of parliament and, as such, create or change law. The Regulations are a supplement and subordinate to the Acts, cover the details and procedures reflected in the Acts and have the force of law.

Acts are made by Parliament and are law which includes the right to create regulations. In simple terms, the regulations are the mechanics by which the law is carried out.

The Objects Summarises the Intention of an Act

The intentions of an Act are summarised in the objects which you will find close to the beginning of the legislation and give a general understanding of the purpose of the legislation.  They are designed to assist readers to interpret the detailed provision of the legislation.

SSDA relates to the creation and registration of strata schemes and is the legislation used by developers when they are constructing strata buildings, registering strata plans and strata renewal process.

The objects of the SSDA set out in section 3 are replicated below.

“The main objects of this Act are to provide for–

(a) the subdivision of land, including buildings, into cubic spaces to create freehold strata schemes and leasehold strata schemes, and

(b) the way in which lots and common property in strata schemes may be dealt with, and

(c) the variation, termination and renewal of strata schemes.”

Acts are Divided into Parts

The SSDA contains 12 Parts and has 204 sections and 8 Schedules and include the following Parts:

Part 2 – Creation of Lots And Common Property In Strata Schemes.

Part 3 – Provisions Relating to Leases In Leasehold Strata Schemes.

Part 4 – Strata Certificates.

Part 5 – Staged Development.

Part 6 – Strata Management Statements and Easements Relating To Part Strata Parcels.

Part 9 – Variation or Termination of Strata Schemes.

Part 10 – Strata Renewal Process For Freehold Strata Schemes.

Similarly, the SSMA sets out its objects in section 3 as follows:

“The objects of this Act are as follows–

(a) to provide for the management of strata schemes,

(b) to provide for the resolution of disputes arising from strata schemes.”

The SSMA contains 14 Parts and has 276 sections and 3 Schedules and include:

Part 2 – Managing Body For Strata Schemes–Owners Corporation

Part 4 – Strata Managing Agents And Building Managers

Part 5 – Financial Management

Part 6 – Property Management

Part 7 – By-Laws For Strata Schemes

Part 8 – Obligations Of Owners, Occupiers And Others Relating To Lots

Part 9 – Insurance

Part 10 – Records and Information About Strata Schemes

Part 11 – Building Defects

Part 14 – Miscellaneous

Interpretation Act

Interpretation Act 1987 as amended is an additional legislative aid to understanding the meaning words, and construction of Acts and Instruments.

To conclude, I suggest you go to the links I have provided and scroll through the various Parts, sections, and Schedules. By taking this practical approach you will learn to navigate through the Acts and Regulations which affect your everyday living in Strata and when you become more proficient no one will be able to pull the wool over your eyes. You should as a result feel somewhat more empowered and certainly more knowledgeable.

Interpretation Act 1987 as amended is an additional legislative aid to understanding the meaning words, and construction of Acts and Instruments.

AUSTLII the go-to search engine for legislation and Case law

This is the Austlii link which is an amazing and useful search engine. For our purposes, scroll down to NSW Legislation then go to New South Wales Consolidated Acts and up will come all NSW Acts which can be uploaded alphabetically or scroll down the “Most Accessed” and you will see SSMA is the third most accessed piece of legislation. The site also lists NSW Case law and probably as a start, the Civil and Administrative Tribunal New South Wales- Consumer and Commercial Division 2014 – is the one that would be of most interest to the reader and here is the link . This where you find strata decisions.

I hope this article has been of some assistance to build your knowledge of Strata law and gives you confidence about Strata and Strata Management. There will be more to come.

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