NSW Fair Trading: What more could we do to help strata and community schemes?

| January 9, 2012
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NSW Fair Trading provides a number of important services to strata and community schemes. Rod Stowe looks at ways these services could be improved.

As the main regulator NSW Fair Trading plays an important role in the management of strata and community schemes. We take over 30,000 calls and receive hundreds of letters each year from people seeking information and advice. With many more schemes to be built in the coming years the demand for our services will only continue to grow.

Strata Living is one of our most popular publications and we have a wide range of other information available on our website. The educational seminars we conduct across NSW are also well attended and well received.

I am keen to look at ways in which NSW Fair Trading could improve on our existing services. People who buy into a scheme for the first time and those who are newly elected to an executive committee have particular information needs. Making available to all new owners and committee members an easy to read brochure highlighting the key things to look out for is one option we could take.

Earlier this year we introduced The Letterbox, a regular email newsletter sent to interested persons on the NSW tenancy laws. Each issue focuses on a particular topic and answers questions sent in by readers. This may be another way NSW Fair Trading can spread the message and help lift awareness and understanding of the laws.

NSW Fair Trading also plays a key role in resolving disputes through our mediation service. Close to 70% of matters that go to mediation are successfully resolved. Opening up the types of matters that can be mediated may prevent disputes from festering within schemes. Adopting the Community Justice Centre model of a free service may encourage more people to give mediation a go.

Enforcing compliance with the law is our third main role. There are close to 70 offences in the current laws, many of which attract maximum penalties of only $110 or $220. A shorter list of key offences would make better use of our limited resources. Innovative and practical remedies, other than court action and fines, may be worth exploring.

What ideas and suggestions do you have for how we can improve the way we carry out our functions?

We invite your comments on the following questions:

Q1. What are the main areas of the existing strata and community scheme laws you would like to see changed?

Q2. Can you see any future issues that need to be addressed in the legislation?

Q3. How could the management of strata and community schemes be improved?

Q4. Are there any changes needed to the way disputes in strata and community schemes are resolved?

Rod Stowe was appointed as Commissioner for Fair Trading in July 2011.  Rod has worked in the Fair Trading portfolio for over 22 years where he has had a variety of roles including Policy Advisor, Director of Customer Services, Assistant Commissioner for Policy and Strategy and Deputy Commissioner.  Some of his achievements while at Fair Trading include national implementation of the Uniform Consumer Credit Code, overseeing the consumer protection strategy for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and managing completion of the portfolio’s National Competition Policy (NCP) legislative review program. More recently, Rod has overseen implementation of the seven COAG national reform projects that directly impact on the functions of NSW Fair Trading, including implementation of the Australian Consumer Law and the National Occupational Licensing System.



DISCLAIMER: The comments published below represent a wide range of views and interests of the participating individuals and organisations. Statements made during online discussions are the personal opinions of the commentators and do not necessarily reflect those of the NSW Government or Open Forum. Open Forum, at all times and at its absolute discretion, reserves the right to remove offensive comments from the Strata Laws Online Consultation. For your reference, any comments/messages that are offensive for the online consultation would include any or all of the following: breach of privacy, defamatory content, profane content, risk of contempt of court, racial and religious hatred/vilification, confidentiality concerns.





  1. furious

    February 8, 2012 at 2:13 am

    strata laws

     What has happened with our applications which have been dismissed for a compulsory managing agent, is that the adjudicator totally misreads the content and context, and in his words agreed"completely" with the respondent and managing agent, who continually as the evidence bears out, fails to follow procedural fairness, oppressing the minority and breaking the act and by laws.

    E.g’s Gardening bills in this 3 unit block, in the first 2 years were over $5000, sometimes $1300 for a visit. This has been proved to be private works for unit 1 and unit 2. The invoices actually state this, yet payments have been made from Owners corporation funds. We had a quote from an independent gardener for $1000 for the year, which by the way this last year the same amount was charged by the present gardeners because we have watched them as they worked. The dismissal by CTTT was because the $1000 quote was so far from actual expence that it could not be correct. They did not even consider the fact that the system is being rorted.

    e.g. After clearly explaining that unit 1 and 2 in a 3 unit block are misappropriating funds, and that unit 3 the only owners living in Australia are not allowed on Executive committee- the reason for dismissing our application for compulsory managing agent was quote " no one else from Owners Corporation seems to be unhappy with the way the EC is working". It is obvious that none of the submission was even read. The adjudicator, who has now left CTTT even accused us of being frivolous and vexatious. We are not even informed of meetings, this is a clear break of Strata laws, yet no comments were made, except to say He agrees"completely" with the managing agent and EC on ALL counts (there were 20with evidence).

    We must add that the lady owner of unit 1 is proud of the fact that she owns 16 properties has been using her own tradesmen and is always on the EC and knows how things work!