Building Quality Improvement
Building Quality Improvement for the Strata Sector is a long running project back to 2008 when then Planning Minister Andrew Barr held a Forum with more than 30 stakeholders to begin the process to address improvements with these residential buildings. There was little disagreement that there were problems. The Minister accredited the OCN and thanked it for bringing the issue to the attention of Government.
Several years of regular focus group meetings chaired by Government and at least three significant Discussion Papers and subsequent Reports including over 40 recommendations were published. A large percentage of these recommendations are still to be implemented and the community perception is that no substantial change in quality has yet occurred. Many of the same problems related to various types of water leaks, structural and render issues and fire safety problems are still evident. Evidence of this has been more recently bought to the attention of MLAs by their constituents particularly from the newer suburbs in Molonglo and Gungahlin. As a result of these representations and with support of OCN, a Legislative Inquiry Committee has been formed and is receiving submissions from the community up to 30th November. Further recognition of the problems is the creation of a Ministerial Portfolio on Building Quality Improvement.
The Public Forum provided by OCN on Monday 3rd December 2018 will discuss the status of this project.
Strata Rates and Land Tax
The OCN (ACT) with support from Strata Community of Australia (SCA) was instrumental in creating a Petition to the ACT Legislative Assembly. The Petition signed by almost 6000 ACT apartment, townhouse and villa owners was presented in February 2018 and a subsequent motion from the Liberals was successfully supported by the Greens. The motion created an Assembly Inquiry into the current system and the Inquiry recognised the system implemented in 2017/18 budget year created unforeseen inequities and unfairness for the strata community. The Bipartisan Inquiry Committee made six recommendations to the Government suggesting the system and its impacts should be reviewed.
So far this is seen by OCN as a partly successful project. Rates on the strata sector did not increase as much as projected by the Barr Government in the 2018/19 budget year which was a small indicator that all was not fair and equitable. As the review is still to be completed more work is still needed.
The Public Forum on Monday 3rd December 2018 is another step in this process.
Strata Legislation Reform
The latest legislation supporting the Strata Sector was enacted in 2011 with support from OCN. This legislation included the Unit Titles Act and the Unit Titles (Management) Act. Since then, particularly as a result of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) decisions, it has become obvious that there are inconsistencies and omissions in the legislation. Most of these problems could be prevented if the legislation was reformed.
In addition, in the past 7 years there have been a substantial number of Mixed Use strata developments with both commercial and residential units. To date, despite at least 3 years of discussion, the legislation needed to enable the owners to manage these complexes fairly is still to come into existence yet the majority of developments in some areas are now of this Mixed Use type.
The OCN Public Forum on Monday 3rd December 2018 has this Reform on the Agenda.
Waste and Recycle Management Code for ACT
Transport Canberra and City Services has produced a Draft Waste and Recycle Management Code for ACT, which has taken on board the changing landscape of Canberra households with the significant number of townhouses, high rise and medium rise developments including many with mixed commercial and residential use. The OCN’s experience provided considerable input for this type of household.
The Draft is available at Transport Canberra and City Services web site under Recycling and Waste at http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/recycling-and-waste/about/waste-management-development-control-code .
Guides for Strata Buyers and Owners
Over the past 4 years OCN and other stakeholders such as Master Builders Australia, the Law Society and Strata Community Australia have worked with Access Canberra to produce Guides for buyers and owners of strata properties. These Guides were published during October 2018 and are available on the Access Canberra website at https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/app/answers/detail/a_id/2100/kw/unit%20titles%20guides
These Guides will be promoted at the OCN Public Forum on 3rd December 2018.
Training Courses for Executive Committee members and other unit owners
Over the last year, OCN ACT, Access Canberra and Strata Community Australia, the managers’ industry group, held two Executive Committee training sessions that were quickly booked out and generally well received. Unfortunately, the third planned session was cancelled when the SCA trainer had to withdraw.
OCN ACT is trying to get these training sessions back on track for 2019 as members have indicated they want training opportunities.
Solar Panel Installation and grid connection
Some work has been undertaken, but much more needed in this complex area.
This new project is in the early stages.