SCA (ACT) President’s Message (March 2022)

Shelley Mulherin

SCA (ACT) has had an encouraging start to 2022, building upon the promising work undertaken in the policy and advocacy space last year and continuing to passionately drive for meaningful and lasting changes to the industry.

ACT Government Unit Title Reform Project

The ACT Government has demonstrated its steadfast commitment to the ongoing reform of the frameworks that govern strata living in the Australian Capital Territory. SCA (ACT) is dedicating significant resources to ensure its members are heard and it has an active role in the Unit Titles Reform Consultation Panel.

Readers may be aware that many beneficial reforms were implemented in 2020/2021, when the Unit Titles Legislation Amendment Act 2020 first came into effect, with those changes (known as the Stage 1 Reforms) now being law in the Territory. However, a lot of relatively complex additional issues require further consideration (the Stage 2 Reforms), which includes comprehensive analysis and consultation with a range of stakeholders including SCA (ACT), to ensure that the changes implemented to the legislation are most likely to result in the best outcomes for strata industry stakeholders including owners, occupiers, developers, builders, contractors and strata managers.

SCA (ACT), as the peak professional association for strata managers in the Australian Capital Territory has had a pivotal role in the Stage 2 reforms.

The Stage Two Reform process as it currently stands, expects to see Cabinet submission in the first half of this year, with a Bill being formalised by the end of 2022.

Industry Outlook

The Australian Capital Territory itself is poised for significant growth in the sector, with the government estimating that 100,000 new homes will be required in the ACT over the next 25 years. With unit titled properties undoubtedly set to support a substantial amount of that growth, particularly in urban environments, SCA will continue to have a key role to play in facilitating this progress in the ACT. SCA (ACT) will continue to work closely with the ACT Government, ensuring that the introduction of further legislative reforms create positive changes for unit title communities, establishing a robust environment that adequately meets the current and future needs of the sector.

In the ACT, the Australian Capital Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (known as the ACAT) is the proper forum for the resolution of strata disputes. We have been pleased to see the ACAT engaging with the jurisdiction created by the Unit Titles (Management) Act 2011 and in particular with reference to section 31, in terms of protecting owners corporations from the costs they must necessarily incur in carrying out their lawful obligations on behalf of all owners (see The Owners UP 1447 v Carroll [2022] ACAT 1; Wright v The Owners UP 14 (Appeal) [2021] ACAT 77).

Of concern

The ACT continues to follow behind other states on the critical issue of the rectification of flammable cladding in the Territory. While we understand the Government will commit to a loan scheme for affected owners corporations, the specific detail of that program remains unannounced. SCA (ACT) will continue to work to compel the ACT Government introduce this much needed support.

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