Wholesale review of community titles legislation overdue

| February 23, 2012

Lawyer Phillippa Russell says major and minor changes are required to the NSW strata legislation. She shares her list of top priorities.

Strata legislation over the last decade has seen several changes. These changes have only really been nibbles around the edges of reform, with some changes being put in place at the instigation of minority groups with their own agenda and with almost all changes taking place without full industry consultation. 

So a fresh approach and stakeholder participation is welcomed.

Both major and minor changes are required to the strata legislation.  A wholesale review of the community titles legislation is now overdue.

Some of my wish list items (not in any order of priority) are:

  • review of the process to terminate strata schemes.
  • abolition of multiple proxy holdings.
  • wholesale review of the dispute process, including: dedicated strata division (of the relevant body), better decision making processes and reporting, and procedures and systems to ensure consistency in decisions.
  • better procedures for by-law enforcement
  • certainty in the pet ownership position
  • review of the consent process as it impacts on registered strata documents: by way of example:
  1. timing and manner of executing strata development contracts.
  2. approval and execution of relevant documents by certifiers.
  • the introduction of a disclosure document, registered on title, which by disclosure permits the registration of dealings and the putting in place of agreements which presently are otherwise prohibited or hard to put in place: by way of example:
  1. long term energy saving agreements
  2. hotel management agreements
  3. dealings (such as easements) which are presently prohibited in the initial period even though they may benefit rather than burden a strata scheme.


    Phillippa Russell’s legal practice specialises in strata title and community title projects. Phillippa is a fellow of the Australian College of Community Association Lawyers Inc and a former Council member of the College, a member of the Property Law Committee of the Law Society of New South Wales, the strata title and community titles committee of the Urban Development Institute of Australia, the Strata Industry Working Group (an initiative established by the Department of Lands to examine strata title law), and the Institute of Strata Management. She is the co-author of a report commissioned by the Council of the City of Sydney and The Property Council of Australia on the reform of legislation dealing with the termination of strata schemes, the former chairperson of the Property Services Advisory Council and former member of the Fair Trading Advisory Council, and a former member of the Law Council of Australia – General Practice Section, NSW Property Group.


    Strata Consultation 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?