WA’s New Strata Laws – What you need to know
May 3, 2022
An increasing number of Western Australians own, work or live in strata properties such as apartments, units, townhouses and villas. Owners share responsibility for any common property, including gardens, external walls, foyers and driveways.
With the rise in popularity of strata ownership, we have seen increased issues in how strata are run and managed. The Strata Title Act has recently been modernised to help resolve these issues and make strata more transparent and fairer for everyone to keep pace with these changing needs.
The amended Strata Titles Act 1985 took effect on May 1st 2020, with grace periods for some new requirements to ensure those affected have adequate time to meet them.
To assist with understanding how the amendments might affect your strata scheme, we’ve summarised the six critical areas of change for you:
1. Better buyer information with more transparency and full disclosure
Sellers must provide:
- The scheme plan, by-laws and unit entitlement
- Minutes of the most recent Annual General Meeting and of any subsequent Extra-ordinary General Meetings
- Estimated strata levy contributions over 12 months
- The most recent statement of accounts of the strata scheme
- Any amounts already owed to the strata management company (by the current lot owner)
A seller’s failure to comply will allow a buyer to lawfully delay settlement or avoid the contract.
2. Improved efficiency in resolving disputes
All disputes will now be heard and resolved by the State Administrative Tribunal, simplifying the dispute resolution process. The only exception is the recovery of unpaid levies, which will remain with the civil court.
3. The process for scheme termination will be fairer
- New safeguards are in place, providing increased protection for strata owners.
- Strata schemes of four lots or less require a unanimous decision before termination.
- For schemes of five lots or more, the State Administrative Tribunal must review and verify that the termination proposal was equitable and due process is followed before termination can proceed.
This legislation looks to pave the way to allow older and under-developed sites to move forward and rejuvenate with new housing stock.
4. Improving strata management and by-laws
- By-laws must not be unfair, discriminatory, oppressive or unreasonable and new by-law lodgement requirements.
- Modernised options for how schemes run, including electronic communication options.
- Statutory requirements and duties for scheme managers.
- Introduction of 10-year maintenance plans and reserve funds.
For the first time in WA strata managers have clear statutory duties which define their role and responsibilities including attaining educational standards and professional indemnity insurance.
5. Leasehold strata as a new type of land title
- This new title is a strata or survey-strata scheme where the term is fixed between 20 and 99 years. The intent is to support more affordable housing options.
- Each owner of a lot will have a certificate of title for the leasehold interest in the lot and the lot’s share in any common property of the scheme.
Living in a leasehold strata scheme will be very similar to living in a freehold strata scheme, except that the scheme has a fixed lifespan.
6. More flexible staged subdivision
- Developers will have more flexibility when delivering stages of strata schemes. The rights of lot owners who have already bought into earlier stages of the scheme are protected while making the process less cumbersome for developers.
The new laws make it clear when the consent of owners is required to change the way a scheme is being developed while making the process more viable and streamlined for developers.
Are you interested in how these changes affect your Strata complex? We will be happy to guide you through and answer your queries. Contact Home 2 Home today for a free consultation with our experienced strata team.