NSW State Recap – Autumn 2020

As New South Wales, Australia and the world struggle with the COVID-19 outbreak, I would like to begin my Autumn report by expressing my deepest sympathies to everyone affected. Our communities, state and nation are experiencing a pandemic unlike any SCA (NSW) has ever experienced, and we’re monitoring and reporting on the situation very carefully.

On behalf of SCA (NSW), we stand behind our members, our stakeholders and our community as we tackle the outbreak dayby-day to ensure we deliver the most up to date information available.

We would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to all those involved in stymieing the threat and spread of the virus and providing vital care and support to those affected.

As we move into Autumn, New South Wales has experienced a difficult start to 2020; battling the aftermath of devastating bushfires, and now fighting to mitigate the threat of Coronavirus. At a state level, we’re experiencing economic hardship and uncertainty, but rest assured, for now, it’s business as usual for SCA (NSW) and we will be working to ensure the Strata Industry continues operating as effectively as possible (within the Government enforced restrictions), to support the millions of residents who reside in strata titled properties.


The strata ecosystem is more critical now than ever and the commerce of strata must continue to protect the safety of our residents.

The unprecedented environment we are all navigating is likely to result in more service solutions channelled through the strata managers. Across the industry our workforces are gearing up to support residents in strata as we understand how critical our role is to ensure safety and security, sanity and survival.

This is not a time to step back, it’s a time to step up for our communities and members, and we’re doing everything we can to ensure strata titled complexes are continuing to run business as usual.

Our key focus is on the impact to our members, their employees, our customers and the impact on SCA (NSW) meetings and events, as well as the proximity in which many of our members reside.

While acknowledging the obvious impact on strata communities and management companies, these circumstances present opportunities to move meetings online and to be conducted by other means as contemplated in the 2015 strata law changes. It also highlights the urgency of prioritising the Community Land Management Act review to ensure laws are contemporised in line with the strata act.

Innovation will guide our industry’s tomorrow.

Strata is responding like it never has. We are under revenue pressure like all businesses in today’s economy, with services and resident demand under intense strain for innovation, solutions and support. We’re up for challenge and will need communities to support these endeavours.

SCA (NSW) are collaborating with State, Federal and international counterparts to implement virus control strategies to educate and support our members. We are lobbying Government, creating resources, streaming webinars and advocating solutions – at a business level the same resourcefulness is being applied to craft solutions for clients. Our webinars have been used by the City of Sydney, we’re managing and updating regularly a dedicated information portal, including a COVID-19 enquiry link, we’re finalising content in a comprehensive operational guide and increasing our publishing of media and blogs to inform our members and public of our work and journey.

Through Minister Kevin Anderson and NSW Fair Trading we’re also compiling a comprehensive strata campaign to keep our members and stakeholders fully informed on COVID-19 and play a leading role in providing information to people who live in strata titled properties.

We continue to be in close contact with the NSW Department of Fair Trading working through the considerable implications for compliance, timeframes, scheme management and safety as a result of the potential ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 virus.

We must stress that these are fluid discussions and whilst we will continue to provide factual advice from Government, several uncertainties remain which could result in updated advice. There could be considerable impacts moving forward. Rest assured that we have ongoing dialogue and are raising concerns to provide as much clarity as possible.

NSW Tenancy Law Changes:

As of 23 March 2020, new residential tenancies laws commenced aimed at improving tenants’ renting experience, while ensuring that landlords can effectively manage their properties.

Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and the new Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 will reduce disputes over repairs and maintenance, increase protection and certainty for tenants, clarify the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords and improve transparency between these two parties.

Key changes include: 

• NSW landlords must ensure that their rental property meets 7 minimum standards to be ‘fit for habitation’. 

• New and improved disclosure obligations on landlords and their agents, including disclosure of material facts, and strengthening the remedies for tenants when these obligations aren’t met. 

• Landlords must ensure that smoke alarms are in working order. A penalty will apply for landlords who don’t comply. 

• Making it easier for tenants to install fixtures or make alterations, additions or renovations that are minor.

• Mandatory set fees when a tenant breaks their lease will apply to all new fixed-term agreements that are 3 years or less. 

• Limiting rent increases to once every 12 months for periodic (continuing) leases. 

• New powers for NSW Fair Trading to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords. This includes powers to investigate and issue rectification orders to require landlords to carry out repairs and maintenance, or tenants to fix damage.

Short-Term Rental Accommodation Reforms:

Changes to the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW) have commenced on 10 April 2020.

These changes will permit an owners corporation to make a by-law to prohibit a lot being used for the purposes of a short term rental accommodation arrangement but only if the lot is not the principal place of residence of the person who is giving another person the right to occupy the lot pursuant to that short term rental accommodation arrangement.

The Department of Customer Service will be releasing further guidance on these provisions in the coming weeks for strata organisations and managers.

The strata community, backed by SCA (NSW), has a critical role to play in supporting the life of Australians living, working and managing strata. There has never been a time for more kindness, acceptance, flexibility and support for each other. While isolating is our personal responsibility, surviving and thriving through the long night in strata will require a village response.

View Comments


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *