Late last year the NSW Government made sweeping changes to strata laws, making it possible for an entire strata titled apartment block to be sold once 75% of owners agree to do so, rather than 100%, as was previously required.
In the last few days, the Government concluded public consultations on the draft regulations relating to strata title, sparking a new round of comment about how the laws will affect vulnerable people once they come into effect and sales of strata titled apartment blocks accelerate.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Fair Trading Minister Victor Dominello says the power to ensure such sales run fairly lies with the Land and Environment Court, which will oversee the sales and ensure they meet six fairness tests. The Herald reports that the court must be satisfied developers do not unduly influence any sale, that proceeds are equally shared and sales are "just and equitable in all the circumstances".
In the view of COTA NSW CEO Ian Day, however, there is no question that some residents of blocks that come up for sale will be negatively affected. “Even though residents who own their apartment will receive financial compensation once a sale goes through, some very elderly people will still need help to navigate a move into new accommodation. Some of the people who will have to move as a result of these laws may have lived in the same apartment for many decades, and they will need assistance to understand their options and get appropriate housing. Renters – who will lose their homes without being financially compensated - will need information about their options even more urgently.”
“Last year the Government advised it will fund a service to assist displaced owners, but no detail has yet emerged. In the meantime, we’d urge people to look at the Home Options Information Service which we run. Currently, it’s the only service providing information that might help people affected by these changes.”