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Debate rages around NSW strata reform

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The New South Wales chapter of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) says scare tactics and misinformation are being used to argue against strata reform in the state.

The public consultation period has passed for the draft strata reform bills released in July this year, and the NSW Department of Fair Trading is now reviewing the comments.

Among the legislation is a controversial proposal whereby only 75 per cent of a body corporate need agree to redevelop a strata property.

Concerns that dissenting residents will be “thrown onto the streets” are unfounded, according to UDIA NSW chief executive Stephen Albin.

“One thing people need to be aware of is this strata reform is not retrospective,” he says.

“It will apply only to existing strata committees if they choose to sign on to it, and it will apply to strata committees that are established post the introduction of the reforms.”

Albin also argues that the collective sale of a strata building would take years to achieve, and there’ll be occasion for residents to appeal.

“The sale would have to go through courts and those in opposition will have the opportunity to argue their case.”

However, his comments are unlikely to have allayed the fears of groups such as the Council on the Ageing (COTA) NSW.

Ian Day, the CEO of COTA NSW, says it’s not just property owners that should be concerned.

“While Fair Trading assure us they will provide support to owners who are in effect ‘forced to move’, these bills – if passed – will have negative unintended consequences for renters, who number about 50 per cent of occupants in older strata title dwellings.

“The strata title unit blocks likely to be affected by these laws are among the few remaining affordable housing options in Sydney, the world’s third most expensive housing market.

“One in five pensioners rent.

“It seems that the government has given no thought to what will become of them once these bills hasten the process of selling old unit blocks to developers for renewal.”

COTA NSW has called on the state government to appoint a Minister for Housing to take charge of the issue.