WA State Recap – Autumn 2020

We are certainly facing challenging times that are really putting us all to the test and I can honestly say that I’m amazed by how quickly our industry has adapted and evolved.

The commitment from strata managers not just from WA, but throughout Australia and New Zealand to ensure our schemes are made safe, are efficiently managed and the well-being of our clients is handled to the best of our ability during unprecedented times has been astounding.

I’d like to recognise the hard work that Alisha Fisher, the CEO for SCA and her team have put in since the start of this pandemic in early March. All the States and the Chapters have caught up at least weekly to work collaboratively with Alisha on the delivery of clear messaging from SCA and the quality of this information has been second to none. Thanks Alisha.

While the Covid-19 crisis has been somewhat all-consuming, there have still been a number of critical matters that the SCA (WA) office has needed to quickly address to ensure necessary services can be delivered to our members, namely, the Reform Training.

The WA Government passed the General Regulations through Parliament in April and the Act and the Regulations were proclaimed on May 1. These reforms to our 1985 Act are essential to help us deliver a more effective level of management during the pandemic, as they provide for a number of easier meeting formats that can be delivered remotely and will greatly assist the economy in its recovery post COVID-19.

We’re delighted that proclamation occurred at the beginning of May and, as such, SCA (WA), the Education Committee and Atkinson Legal have worked tirelessly to turn what was going to be an amazing interactive workshop on the Reform Training into a webinar and as a result the team have revised all of the materials for this change in format. To comply with Section 146 of the revised Act the strata manager “must have a good working knowledge of this Act” and therefore it was critical that we could still deliver the reform training in April. Thank you to all involved.

Legal Affairs and Public Policy Committee (LAPP)

The LAPP committee met at the beginning of April to go over their very busy agenda. The Department of Mines, Industry, Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) are undertaking a review of the Residential Tenancy Act 1987 and were seeking feedback. Our general feedback was that the review was long overdue and with more and more people now living in strata properties, there needed to be greater emphasis on ensuring tenants and property managers were made more aware of the obligations that exist when it comes to strata. There needed to be improved and more informative rental agreements, in line with the revised Buyer Disclosure Statement that Landgate is currently preparing for the Reforms.

In addition, the LAPP were reviewing the DMIRS Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (CRIS) which is a first step to improving processes to enhance the quality and standard of commercial and apartment buildings in WA by implementing the recommendations in the Building Confidence report.

The Building Confidence report looked into wide-ranging areas, such as documentation requirements, performance solutions, fire authority consultation, engagement of building surveyors, third-party review of highrisk designs, variations to the design during construction, inspections of building work, material compliance, and the Building Commissioner’s powers. SCA has invested significant recourses in preparing the Australian Building Manual Guideline and our first response was to share this with DMIRS.

We have also started providing feedback to Landgate on the Community Titles Discussion Paper. The first paper was focused mainly on planning with the LAPP having little to contribute, simply stating that if there was any way for the Regulations to give some consideration towards Local Government Rates rebates to assist owners living in Community Title Schemes that may be liable twice for the provision of essential scheme amenities, then this would be a good thing.

The year ahead is hard to predict, although, we are expecting social distancing and restrictions on travel will be with us until at least the third quarter of 2020.

Our focus is now on delivering a revised education platform for our members and working with our sponsors to ensure we can deliver a program that satisfies all parties.

The SCA (WA) Board are undertaking a final review of the Strata Manager Agency Agreement and we hope to have this available to members before the

end of April. We understand how critical this is to our strata manager members, given our contracts will expire six months from proclamation, and is going to cause significant disruption to both businesses and clients.

This, and the uncertainty around the actual proclamation date, is not ideal and we hope the Minster will make it clear where we stand shortly.

Needless to say, I’m excited by what is being proposed for our revised education courses and I look forward to seeing you in attendance at these great events, even if it is only via videoconferencing.

All the best and stay safe in these crazy times.

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