Submission: Draft Strata Schemes Development Bill 2014


The Tenants’ Union of NSW is the State’s peak non-government organisation for tenants. We are a specialist community legal centre with our own legal practice in residential tenancies law, and the primary resource agency for the State-wide network of Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services.

We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the draft Strata Schemes Development Bill 2014 (NSW) (the draft Bill). We note, however, the limits of the opportunity: we have had four working days to consider the draft Bill. This submission is, therefore, brief and confined to Part 10 of the draft Bill only.

We have serious concerns about the ‘strata renewal process’ provided for by Part 10 of the draft Bill. We are concerned particularly for owner-occupiers who have no or few assets other than their strata dwelling, and for whom our housing system presents few other options.

The strata renewal process would take away an important measure for protecting their housing interests – that is, the requirement of unanimous consent to termination of a scheme – and does not provide other safeguards to prevent hardship. Especially deficient are the provisions relating to applications for court orders giving effect to strata renewal plans. Nor does the process ensure that consent, where it is given, is properly informed by all the relevant information.

As a result, vulnerable owner-occupiers could lose their current housing and be unable to find equivalent alternative housing. They may face the distressing choice of moving away from their local area and community in order buy affordably, or buying unaffordably in their area, or leaving owner-occupation and going into the
rental market.

We believe that law reform for strata renewal should be accompanied by a State affordable housing policy that delivers more and better housing options – and we cannot support the removal of the requirement of unanimous consent for renewal in the absence of a stronger policy.

We also believe that certain safeguards should be built into the strata renewal process provided for by Part 10 of the draft Bill. We discuss these safeguards below.