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August 09 Edition Cover

Changes in store for OC Act?

02 Dec 2015

Major changes could be in store for owners’ corporations (OCs) throughout Victoria, if the State Government follows the lead of interstate authorities.

The Government is currently reviewing the OC Act, alongside other pieces of property legislation.

In October, the NSW government introduced the Strata Reform Bill, bringing with it a number of changes.

These include restrictions on length of contracts for OC managers and building managers, holding developers to account for promises made regarding low levies and curbing proxy farming.

In August, Minister for Consumer Affairs Jane Garret announced a comprehensive review of four pieces of property legislation including the Owners Corporation Act 2006, the Sale of Land Act 1962, Estate Agents Act 1980 and Conveyancers Act 2006.

In terms of the OC Act, the review would focus on the management, powers and functions of owners’ corporations and conduct of professional owners’ corporation managers.

In 2013, under the previous government, Consumer Affairs Victoria undertook a review of the regulation of owners’ corporation managers, with public submissions closing on November 27, 2013.

However, the outcome of this review was never released.

A Consumer Affairs Victoria spokesperson said the current review would include findings from the 2013-14 review of the regulation of owners’ corporation managers.

“The review will start with an issues paper, to be released before the end of the year, looking at licensing and conduct issues for owners’ corporations managers, real estate agents and conveyancers,” the spokesperson said.

“Issues papers relating to the other aspects of the legislation under review will be published in the coming months.”

The spokesperson said members of the public would be invited to make submission to the review.

According to Strata Titles Lawyers CEO Tom Bacon, the Government should make accountability and transparency for the industries that service OCs a priority during the review.

“There are plenty of examples that I have seen of unfair, unreasonable and uncompetitive service contracts that affect a number of OCs, principally in the areas of strata management, elevator services and repairs, building management and internet and telephonic systems,” Mr Bacon said.

“Also, the Government should clarify the OC’s role in enforcing rules about overcrowding and boarding houses as it is becoming a large issue across the city.”

“And I also believe that the practice of proxy farming should be brought to end as it has been in Queensland and as it will be in NSW with the 2016 legislation,” Mr Bacon said.

Dock 5 OC chairperson Stan Ham said he would like the review to strengthen the power of owners’ corporations to deal with short-stays.

“We’re mostly concerned about short-stays,” he said.

Currently, Dock 5 does not have an issue with short-stay accommodation in the building, however Mr Ham said many owners held concerns.

Mr Ham said he would also like to see a limitation on owners’ rights to appeal OC committee decisions that enforce OC rules.

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