SCA (ACT) President Report 2022

I have been strongly encouraged by the development and direction of the strata industry in the ACT over the past year. The Strata Community Association (ACT) as a chapter of the national SCA, has continued to build upon the promising work undertaken since 2020, capitalising on the momentum gained and continuing to drive for meaningful and lasting changes to the industry.

Specifically, the SCA ACT Board has been invigorated over the past 12 months by an increased utilisation of resourcing which has enabled us to significantly expand the scope of our advocacy efforts, identifying several additional areas of potential reform and tackling them head on. Although we have faced challenges, like all jurisdictions, we are proud of what we have accomplished, and of the visible impact we can observe on the sector here in the ACT.

The important and much-needed reforms to the frameworks that govern strata living in the ACT have continued to be addressed over the past year, as the Unit Titles Legislation Amendment Act undergoes further consideration of proposed changes (known as the Stage 2 Reforms). In order to properly navigate the ongoing complexity of the Stage 2 Reforms, SCA has remained a consistent contributor to the Unit Title Reform Industry Consultation Panel, playing a pivotal role as a key stakeholder within the group, alongside the Property Council and the ACT Law Society.

Although we were expecting to have a cabinet submission in the first half of this year, unfortunately,

delays and certain shifting timelines have meant that the project’s implementation has been delayed.

However, we now have a revised timeline commitment from the ACT Government, which should see approval to introduce the bill in March 2023, and commencement in July of 2023. Broadly speaking, the issues that are being discussed within the panel meetings have been centred around legislation that facilitates:

  • Making general administrative improvements
  • Improving practices and reducing frustration surrounding the placement of insurance and OC funding arrangements
  • Improving overall administrative practices between strata managers, owners corporations and the ACT Government
  • Improving guidelines around utilities, aiming to reduce ambiguities
  • Working through processes to make it easier to transfer between agents, that are beneficial for both strata managers and owners corporations

SCA (ACT) has invested significant time and remained focussed on pushing forward the agenda regarding the progression of the Government’s response to the rectification of dangerous cladding in the ACT. This year, we received significant exposure through the media, engaging in a successful campaign to raise awareness and draw attention to the lack of support currently being provided by the ACT Government. Our advocacy efforts notably included supporting Owners Corporation Network (OCN) in the facilitation of a public forum, conducted to address the concerns of community members regarding the ongoing issues surrounding dangerous combustible cladding in the ACT. We thank the OCN for uniting with the SCA on this serious and important issue for ACT residents. The details of the Private Buildings Concessional Loan Scheme were recently introduced by Rebecca Vassarotti MP, Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction.

SCA (ACT) has been focused on pushing forward the agenda regarding the lack of progression of dangerous cladding rectification efforts in the ACT for some time now, receiving significant exposure from the media and engaging in a successful awareness campaign. In short, the details of the scheme are as follows:

  • Eligible OC’s who participated in Phase 1 of the scheme will be able to apply for concessional loans from 29 August 2022, with an 18-month application period.
  • The loans will be at a fixed interest rate of 4.2%, with a loan repayment period of 10 years following completion of works.
  • Individual loans are expected to reach up to $15 million per owners corporation, with no penalties for repaying the loans early.

Although we are encouraged by the progress on this issue, after an extended period in the dark as to the details of the scheme, SCA (ACT) maintains concerns about the structure of the loans, particularly regarding the implications of a fixed interest rate of 4.2% on scheme beneficiaries. SCA (ACT) will continue to engage with the Government, to ensure that the implementation of the scheme is as effective as possible, and leads to positive outcomes for those residents in the ACT who remain at risk.

Although we didn’t obtain all of the provisions we sought, now that the residential cladding scheme is fully introduced, we know the Government heard our voice, and we are now well positioned as an industry body to assist with its integration. #PutTheFireOut

Sustainability continues to be a pervasive subject matter for media and government alike within the strata context. The ACT Government has showed its commitment to bolstering its climate strategy, and

it’s intentions of leading the way towards a substantial goal of ‘Net Zero Emissions by 2045.’ As a core piece of this considerable initiative, the Standing Committee on Planning, Transport and City Services is currently undergoing an inquiry into Electric Vehicle Adoption in the ACT. The primary purpose of the inquiry is to investigate barriers to EV uptake, along with solutions and incentives to encourage better uptake in the ACT.

SCA (ACT), after consultation with our expert members, provided a comprehensive submission to the committee during its consultation period, that was particularly focused on the challenges surrounding the implementation of EV charging in strata schemes.

We are acutely aware that investing in sustainability in strata has a multiplier effect not felt anywhere else in the economy. SCA (ACT) is devoting considerable time and effort towards ensuring that the ACT

Government leverages the untapped potential of strata, to deliver change for the critical areas the government is targeting. However, we need to ensure that the government is doing so in a matter that best navigates the complexities involved in the sustainable development of strata communities.

Nationally, SCA led with their vision to unite the industry nationally, and to raise the influence of the

strata sector within the broader property sector, in order to create a liveable, green and efficient built

environment. The ACT is facing a period of significant change and opportunity, as the Government begins to roll out its long term sustainability frameworks, and SCA, as a peak body, consider it our responsibility to seek to guide the sector towards overcoming these globally significant hurdles. #KeepItGreen

I remain troubled by the state of the employment market for strata management and our ability to continue to attract talent to the sector. I applaud the SCA(ACT) volunteers who contribute their

time and effort to training executive committee members. Raising awareness of the proper role of a strata manager (and managing the expectations of clients) remains a work in progress. I encourage all members to remain transparent in their dealings with clients, and to be frank and forthright if challenged on any issues of integrity or ethics. We should respond loudly and clearly to any assertions or otherwise. If you are unsure about any part of your business practices or related matters, you can speak with the SCA(ACT) Board, or with me directly. #CallItOut

On a personal note, I was really pleased to be asked to present a module at the A100 course this year on

strata legislation. I hope all attendees blitzed the legal questions in the exam which followed. Well done to all those who enrolled, for your hard work and perseverance. Worthwhile pursuits are, of course, rarely easy. #StrataBrains

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