Watch our video summary of feedback outcomes and next steps to reform.
The State Government has set strata reform as a key priority and Landgate has been tasked to deliver reforms to the Strata Titles Act 1985 (WA) (STA). The proposed reforms aim to ensure Western Australia has a modern Strata Titles Act to better meet the State's needs in light of future growth.
Reforms will help provide more flexible and sustainable housing options to benefit developers, strata owners, investors, residents and tenants. They do not aim to change current strata owners' land titles and boundaries, but do aim to improve the way strata schemes work.
The Strata Reform Project Team is now refining its original proposals based on the consultation feedback received and further research.
Overall the consultation received 154 registered participants, which included 35 organisations, and 1160 official comments.
Our next steps will be to complete proposal refinements and drafting instructions, and present them to Cabinet with a request for approval to draft a new Bill.
What is changing?
Scope of the strata reforms
The following areas are being investigated by the reform team, for their suitability and practicality:
Tenure reform propose to:
- introduce community title schemes for the management of mixed-use, different schemes in one land parcel, and multiple schemes in one building for different uses (residential, commercial, retail).
- introduce leasehold strata schemes to allow for registration of a strata plan over a leasehold interest to create leasehold units, and for Certificate of Titles to be produced for leasehold titles
- improve the staging of strata developments.
Vendor Disclosure reforms will improve the information that vendors of strata properties are required to give buyers before they sign the contract.
Dispute Resolution reforms will make the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) the central forum for strata disputes. Channelling these into a single forum will mean more efficient and cost effective dispute resolution processes.
Management of strata reforms will clarify the role and functions of strata companies, strata councils and strata managers, promoting greater transparency and accountability.
Termination of schemes reforms will determine when to upgrade and replace old housing stock, if 100% ownership agreement is not reached. This reform proposes a model to terminate by majority vote, with safeguards for objecting owners.
Key benefits of the strata reforms
- Reforms to the STA aim to create more choice and make shared living environments more attractive. It is up to the industry to use these reforms to achieve this.
- Strata owners and managers will be more empowered and have access to more effective dispute resolution processes.
- Reforms are expected to attract and enable more developers to invest in WA.
- A more robust and modern STA will also ensure WA can better meet the State’s needs in light of future growth.
Why make changes?
Western Australia’s changing needs
- By 2031, WA will be home to more than 3.5million people and we need to prepare for the increased demand for more sustainable housing.
- More accommodation options for a population of this size are needed. Having a more robust and suitable legislative framework to support strata in Western Australia is now critical
- Reforms are being introduced to provide more housing options and more flexibility in strata developments.
- Developers are increasingly choosing to build in the Eastern States over WA – because we don’t have a suitable regime that allows them the flexibility they need for more innovative developments – reforms aim to attract more investors to WA.
- Strata makes up 25% ($10.7 billion) of annual land transactions in WA and Strata Titles now comprise one third of all new lots created, with demand increasing.
Limitations of the current STA
- you cannot mix strata and survey strata in a single, integrated development.
- the STA is not able to support large schemes that warrant multiple management levels.
- you cannot easily share facilities between separate strata schemes except by easements and contracts.
- the staged development provisions are restrictive.
- you cannot easily manage the mixing of uses in one scheme.
- you cannot provide for multiple strata schemes in one building.
- developer covenants in the Management Statement is confusing.
- there is a lack of clarity around strata manager roles and responsibilities, which leads to mismanagement and disputes.
- 100% agreement between owners or an order from the District Court is required before a strata scheme can be terminated.
- several legal forums exist to manage strata dispute resolution.
- the STA doesn't provide for the use of technology to manage affairs or hold meetings.
How is the reform being progressed?
Landgate is progressing the reform agenda by
- developing discussion papers in conjunction with key stakeholders, incorporating their feedback and also the lessons learned from other states
- conducting public consultation; all discussion papers developed on each area of reform were merged into a single consultation paper and then made available on the Strata Titles Act Reform webpage for public comment
- analysing submissions and summarising the outcomes of consultation
- refining proposals and preparing drafting instructions to amend the Strata Titles Act 1985 (Act)
- requesting Cabinet approve the drafting of a Bill to amend the Act
- requesting for the Bill to be printed for introduction to Parliament.
Delivering the reforms
Government understands the scope of reforms being progressed is sizeable and that a collaborative effort with input from industry and government is essential if they are to be delivered in a timely manner.
In addition to the changes that are needed to the STA, there are also major IT system, policy and business process changes required for Landgate, the Office of State Revenue and other agencies. Also, new processes for industry and the public will need to be implemented, requiring extensive education and awareness raising efforts.
How have we consulted?
Our stakeholder engagement process has been ongoing for more than two years and followed a phased approach, to ensure we have involved as many people as possible.
An initial phase of briefings and meetings with key stakeholders in Government and industry was undertaken, and is still ongoing around some issues.
A three-month public consultation was open from 31 October 2014 to 16 January 2015 to receive feedback. Submissions were received via an online consultation tool, email and post or hand delivery to Landgate.
The STA reform team has also investigated the strata legislation and practices in other states: different models are in place in the different jurisdictions, each with varying levels of success. The aim has been to learn from other jurisdictions, identifying what lessons can be applied to meet WA's needs.
The Strata Titles Act Reform team would like to acknowledge and thank the following stakeholders for their ongoing contributions to the reform process. This list continues to grow as the project progresses:
- Australian Institute of Conveyancers WA (AICWA)
- Allen Partners NSW
- ATCO Gas
- Atkinson Legal
- Australian Bankers Association
- Australian Property Institute
- Body Corporate Brokers (BCB)
- Building Commission (Dpt of Commerce)
- Cancer Council
- Catholic University of Australia Victoria
- CHU Insurance
- Commissioner for Consumer Affairs
- Department of Aboriginal Affairs
- Department of the Attorney General
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Finance – Office of State Revenue WA
- Department of Housing
- Department of Lands
- Department of Planning
- Department of Water
- Ernst & Young
- Exclusive Strata Management (ESM)
- Faculty of Law, QLD University of Technology
- Faculty of Law, NSW University of Technology
- Fair Trading NSW
- Fini Group of Companies
- Insurance Council of Australia
- Land and Property Information NSW
- Landgate SMEs
- Landgate’s Customer Service Council
- Law Society of WA
- LGA – City of Armadale
- LGA – City of Bayswater
- LGA – City of Belmont
- LGA – City of Perth
- LGA – City of Rockingham
- LGA – City of Stirling
- LGA – City of Swan
- Local Government Planners Association (LGPA)
- Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority (MRA)
- Planning Institute
- Property Council of Australia
- Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA)
- State Administrative Tribunal (SAT)
- Strata Community Australia NSW
- Strata Community Australia VIC
- Strata Community Australia WA (SCAWA)
- Strata Unit Underwriters
- Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI)
- Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA)
- WA Local Government Authority (WALGA)
Quote from UDIA's Strata Titles Act Reform submission covering letter (January 2015).
"UDIA is continuing to discuss the Strata Titles Reform project, meeting yesterday with the team from Landgate. A document has been developed after the initial round of meetings which is trying to capture the ideas of industry and regulators and poses a range of questions on which they are seeking feedback. UDIA appreciates the way in which this consultation is being undertaken, with a "work in progress" document being circulated and updated after meetings with key stakeholders – this approach is far superior to simply releasing a finalised discussion paper for feedback with no previous input."
Reproduced by permission of Debra Goostrey at UDIA.
For any enquiries about Strata Titles Act Reform, please email to StrataTitlesActReform@landgate.wa.gov.au.