Handling strata disputes
All strata properties registered as Strata Titles at Landgate are subject to the Strata Titles Act 1985 (the Act) and will all be subject to changes brought about by the Strata Titles Amendment Bill that is proceeding through Parliament.
How the strata changes affect the dispute process
There may be occasional problems associated with strata living, but most of those problems, such as disagreements with neighbours, can also exist in the freehold title environment. The advantage of strata living is that mechanisms such as by-laws and the State Administrative Tribunal (the Tribunal) exist to assist in the reconciliation of disputes.
The dispute resolution provisions within the Act are complex and limit the power the Tribunal has to resolve strata disputes. Currently, strata disputes in WA are heard in three different courts and the Tribunal.
With so many forums, the dispute process can be costly, time consuming and confusing for strata owners, as it is not clear which forum they can approach to resolve their strata dispute. This ineffective and inefficient dispute resolution framework has been addressed in the reforms.
Benefits to owners
Parties are encouraged to resolve the dispute between themselves. This may resolve the dispute without further action and allow both parties to gain an appreciation of the issues under dispute and decrease the likelihood of ongoing conflict between the parties. When disputes cannot be resolved informally, there is a formal process of dispute resolution provided through the Tribunal, that does not include mediation.
The two major reforms to dispute resolution are:
- making the Tribunal the one-stop-shop to resolve strata disputes
- strengthening the Tribunal’s powers to efficiently resolve disputes.
State Administrative Tribunal
The Tribunal is the primary place for the review of decisions made by Government agencies, public officials and local governments. It also makes a wide variety of original decisions. By strengthening the Tribunal’s powers to efficiently resolve disputes, those who own and live in strata should have their issues resolved in a cost-effective and timely manner.
Strengthening the Tribunal’s powers means that it:
- becomes a cost-effective, one-stop-shop for disputes
- will be able to enforce, make, amend and repeal by-laws
- will be able to make, amend and repeal resolutions
- will become the specialist forum for strata dispute resolution and address many kinds of disputes
- is able to access judicial or legally qualified members when required
- is enabled to hear disputes that would have previously gone through other courts
The Tribunal has also been considered when reducing disputes in staged strata subdivision, and with the introduction of leasehold schemes under the new legislation.
For more information
Find out more about the proposed changes to simplify the dispute resolution process on the simplified dispute resolutions web page under the topic 'All about the reforms'.
Living in strata
Quicker, simpler and cheaper dispute resolution
One owner point blank refused to give permission to alter this portion of common property, despite it having no impact on his own lot…the couple is all but housebound.