Feeling zapped? Get your wiring checked

NSW Fair Trading is warning apartment residents who might feel a slight tingle or shock when touching electrical appliances in their homes to report it straight away.

Strata managers, property agents, landlords and the strata committee have an obligation to act on these reports immediately.

The warning comes after a tenant recently reported intermittent electric shocks to their property manager, to which they did not receive a response. The tenant then engaged a contractor who alerted the electrical network operator, and a voltage of 232 volts on rainwater down pipes plus front and rear awning supports was discovered. In this instance, it was a network issue and was fixed by the operator. Had the problem not been resolved, a fatal incident could have occurred.

If you don’t receive a prompt response, NSW Fair Trading recommends contacting your electrical network operator directly. All operators will investigate reported public shocks at no cost:

Ausgrid: 13 13 88  Essential Energy: 132 080  Endeavour Energy: 131 003

If your operator does not respond in a timely manner, contact the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) for a free dispute resolution service.

SCA (NSW) in the news

SCA (NSW) held a press conference in front of Mascot Towers on Thursday, 18 July 2019.

Here is a round up of media coverage and some photos of the press conference:

” ‘Strata army’ demands NSW fix apartments mess”
Australian Financial Review, 18 July 2019

“”Fearful” strata owners call for national action on cladding, codes”
Nine, 18 July 2019

“Buck stops with Berejiklian in NSW cladding issue: Strata body”
Nine, 18 July 2019

“Sydney cladding crisis would take $1 billion to fix, strata body warns”
Sydney Morning Herald, 18 July 2019

Owners quoted $80K per unit to fix flammable cladding”
Daily Telegraph, 18 July 2019

“NSW Government urged to match Victoria’s cladding protection”
ABC News online, 17 July 2019 (scroll down page to find relevant story)

“Cladding insurance crisis hits owners of affected apartments”
ABC radio, 17 July 2019

“More than 170 Parramatta buildings identified as potentially containing combustible cladding”
Seven News, 17 July 2019

Meeting request to the Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation

Hon. Kevin Anderson MP
Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation
GPO Box 5341
Sydney, NSW 2001

 

Dear Minister,

RE: MEETING REQUEST ON BEHALF OF TWO MILLION NSW RESIDENTS

 Our Association is the peak organisation representing the interests of two million people in New South Wales who own, manage or live in units, apartments, townhouses and commercial strata property in this State.

Nationally, SCA Members have responsibility for the management $1.2trillion of building and property assets and we have a database of millions of strata residents through our member companies.

Your Government and you personally are to be commended for the way you stepped in and assisted the Mascot Towers owners and residents, however the issues facing strata titled apartments is widespread.

It is obvious to us all that the unit and apartment market in NSW is in turmoil.

Flammable cladding can lead to serious death and injury.  Over 70 people died in London two years ago in the Grenfell Towers fire and my Association is under pressure from its members to work with your Government to find a solution.

We do not want someone to die in this State before this cladding issue is properly addressed and a solution found.

I have been unsuccessful in my requests for a meeting with you and or a senior NSW Minister to address issues relevant to the strata sector.

I am requesting again that we meet, and my membership is demanding to know why your Government has not met with us to date to discuss the many and varied issues that confront Strata.

I look forward to your advice on our request to meet as a matter of urgency.

Yours sincerely,

             

Chris Duggan
SCA (NSW) President

 

UPDATED: Changes from 1 July 2019 you need to know

The new financial year brings changes to laws and new fees and charges. SCA (NSW) has highlighted those that affect the strata industry and strata businesses.

e-Conveyancing mandate
From 1 July 2019 customers can no longer lodge mainstream property dealings in paper in NSW. This means that NSW LRS will be unable to accept these dealings in paper form at the Customer Service Counter if signed on or after that date.

Instead, customers must complete these dealings using an Electronic Lodgement Network Operator (ELNO) authorised to operate in NSW.

The following dealings signed on or after 1 July 2019 must be lodged electronically through an ELNO, whether as standalone or in any combination:

  • Discharge of Mortgage – DM
  • Mortgage – M (including mortgage with a Justification for a Change of Name)
  • Transfer – T
  • Caveat – X
  • Withdrawal of Caveat – WX
  • Transmission Application – TA

The six dealings listed above must be lodged electronically from 1 July 2019 unless a Conveyancing Rules waiver applies, or the item is exempted from electronic lodgement.

New LRS fees
The NSW LRS fees for products and services involving land titles, plans, property information and the Water Access Licence Register have changed for the 2019/2020 financial year.

NSW LRS regulated fees are based on the following regulations. These regulations are published on the NSW Legislation website: www.legislation.nsw.gov.au.

  • Real Property Regulation 2014
  • Conveyancing (General) Regulation 2018
  • Strata Schemes Development Regulation 2016

The most common regulated and other fees charged by NSW LRS for 2019/2020 can be found on the LRS Forms and Fees web page.

Customers should note that 2018/2019 regulated fees will be applied to land title dealings and plans lodged before 1 July 2019 but not finalised until after 1 July 2019.

A new system called PEXA commenced from 1 July 2019 and is a new way of facilitating electronic property settlements.

New PEXA system
For strata managers this changes the way in which strata lot ownership financial settlements are done.

Instead of a settlement cheque being drawn as settlement for outstanding levies, strata managers will, through PEXA, now receive payment electronically.

To do this, strata managers should provide BPAY details along with a S184 certificate. These details can either be printed on the S184 certificate or a levy notice can be provided with the S184 certificate.

One major benefit for members with this new system is that it should reduce the number of phone calls for payment details that most offices receive.

More details about PEXA can be found here.

Lodging a tax return
From 1 July 2019, lodging a tax return and managing your tax and super details have changed.

From this date, employees may not receive a payment summary from their employer. This is because of the way employers report tax and super information to the ATO is changing.

This information will instead be available by logging into myGov and accessing ATO online services. For those who use a tax agent they will have this information and will be able to use it to pre-fill tax returns.

Also, health insurers are no longer required to send private health insurance statements. This information should be available in the ATO online services by 20 July.

For employers, from 1 July 2019, you can only claim deductions for payments you make to your workers, such as employees or contractors, where you have complied with the pay as you go withholding and reporting obligations for that payment.

Tax changes for Small Businesses
From July 1, businesses with staff numbers less than 20 are advised to switch to an online payroll system called ‘Single Touch Payroll’. The new system also tracks superannuation payments.

Businesses with more than 20 staff switched to Single Touch Payroll last year.

NSW Civil and Administrative (NCAT) fees increased from 12 July. The NCAT fees and charges schedule can be downloaded here.

Briefly the charges are:

  • 1.75% general increase to all fees and charges.
  • Introduction of a corporation fee for administrative review applications.
  • Certain application types continue to have no fee including community services matters and Guardianship Division applications.

NCAT fees and changes are prescribed under Schedule 2 of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Regulation 2013.

A concession rate of 25% of the full fee is available for eligible pensioners. Parties who are unable to pay the concession fee or are not eligible may apply to NCAT for a full or partial fee waiver.

 

Meeting sought with Premier following Mascot Towers disaster

A meeting has been sought with the NSW Premier following the Mascot Towers disaster which has dominated headlines in Sydney for over a week.

SCA (NSW) President, Chris Duggan, has written to the Premier seeking an urgent meeting on behalf of the thousands of strata apartment owners and residents in NSW who could easily find themselves in a similar situation.

While the NSW Government has said that it will bring forward a revamp of building regulations, SCA (NSW) believes there are other issues such as building integrity, combustible cladding, private certifiers and insurances premiums that need to be worked through.

The Mascot Tower, as well as the Opal Tower, support SCA (NSW) claims that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hear Chris Duggan’s most recent comments on 2GB in an interview with Ross Greenwood on 17 June 2019 via this link.

SCA (NSW) is yet to hear from the Premier but will continue to strongly advocate on behalf of the strata sector in NSW.

 

 

 

Report released: the rising number of building defects

Deakin University  and Griffith University researchers released a report into building defects this month, which coincided with the Mascot Towers defect disaster forcing apartment owners to leave their damaged apartments.

The unnamed report follows research into the types of defects and how they impact buildings and their occupants.

The research found that the number one problem in buildings was from water damage either caused by poor waterproofing or roof and rainwater disposal defects. The second and possibly more alarming find was from the number of defects relating to fire safety.

Researchers interviewed industry stakeholders, apartment owners and residents, including those who volunteered on owners corporation committees. They noted that “water penetration and fire protection defects were the most commonly cited problems.”

They also said that “the focus on minimum standards instead of best practice in the National Construction Code was also raised as a concern, as well as the private certification system, where community expectations were seen to be out of step with legal requirements.

“Many industry representatives suggested that human error played a significant part in building defects and the misuse of building products, lack of training, and lack of licensing were all common factors contributing the defect problems.”

With the latest apartment block defect issue making the news each night for over a week SCA (NSW) is watching closely. The Deakin University report confirms what most of the industry has been telling government for sometime and we will continue to raise this at every opportunity.

 

Why owners corporations might need to join EWON

The Energy and Water Ombudsman (EWON) has advised that owners corporations supplying or selling energy to residents through an embedded network are required to become EWON members.

In March 2018, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) revised its Network Exemption Guideline and its Exempt Selling Guideline to require exempt entities servicing residential customers to join EWON.

This change gives NSW residents who receive electricity or gas via an embedded network access to the same protections customers of authorised energy retailers receive. More information about this is available via this link ewon.com.au/its-time-to-become-a-member.

There are benefits to joining EWON, which aims to be the office of last resort. It works with members to help them reduce complaints and manage the ones they do get as effectively as possible. Members receive a complaint handling policy template and training opportunities to help them improve their internal dispute resolution processes. Other benefits of joining EWON include:

  • Regular reporting on complaint figures
  • Systemic issues identification
  • Participating in forums
  • Complaint referrals
  • Engagement and education
  • Policy development
  • Governance participation.

Read about the full benefits of membership at ewon.com.au/what-does-becoming-a-member-mean.

In the first year of membership EWON fees start from $425 for up to 50 customers, as shown in the table below.

Customer number bandwidths Joining fee (one off) Base fee (annual) Customer number fee (annual)
1 1 50 $125 $150 $150
2 51 100 $250 $500 $200
3 101 500 $1,000 $1,000 $500
4 501 2,000 $2,500 $2,000 $1,000
5 2,001 5,000 $5,000 $3,000 $2,000

Visit applications.ewon.com.au to start your application. For more information, or help email members@ewon.com.au or phone 02 8218 5251.

 

DIY By-laws: is it possible?

Strata committees can do their own by-laws thanks to a new online portal from Bannermans Lawyers.

In just a few easy steps, strata owners can create a new set of by-laws that can save them time and money. Something we all want to do in this time poor world.

Launched this month, owners can upload plans and documents as well as choose from a range of already created by-laws or renew existing ones.

A helpful online video has been created to explain the process. To find out more head to diybylaws.com.au.

 

Finalists announced for the 2019 SCA (NSW) | CHU Strata Community Awards for Excellence

The judging is over, and the finalists have been announced for the 2019 SCA (NSW) | CHU Strata Community Awards for Excellence.

Now the anticipation builds for the unveiling of the 2019 winners at the Awards Gala which this year is themed Secret Garden.

So without further ado, the finalists are:

Individual Award Categories

Senior Strata Community Manager
Christine Ashfield-Howell, Netstrata
Melissa Elliott, Netstrata
Kristie Pike, Bright & Duggan
Michael Thompson, Netstrata

Strata Community Manager
Alexandra Leis, Strata Title Management
Nicholas Stephenson, Bright & Duggan
Lucy Thompson, Strata Plus Parramatta
Claire Wilson, Dynamic Property Services

Strata Community Manager – Rising Star
Evaan Efstratiadis, O’Neill Strata Management
George Hatzigeorgiou, Netstrata
Rina Kumar, Bright & Duggan
Katie Labonne, Premier Strata Management
Megan Parkins, Dynamic Property Services
Hira Zaheer, Strata Title Management

Support Team Member
Margaret Blackhall, Dynamic Property Services
Belinda Claffey, Bright & Duggan
Chris Lagana, Netstrata
Christine Tomas, Strata Plus

Essay Award
Rohan Cooper
Maria Diswe
Natalie Fitzgerald
Anthony Votano

Business Award Categories

Strata Community Management Business – Small
Dalton Strata Services
Strata Revolution
Supreme Strata
Your Local Strata

Strata Community Management Business – Medium
Kooper and Levi Strata Management
Strata One
The Strata Collective
Wellman Strata Management

Strata Community Management Business – Large
Netstrata
Strata Choice
Strata Plus
Strata Title Management

Strata Services Business
2020 Fire Protection
Brushwood Fencing Australia
Havencab Property Group
The Shower Repair Centre

Excellence in Innovation
Netstrata
Network Pacific
Strata Choice
Strata Revolution

Strata Scheme Award Category

Strata Community Environmental & Engagement Award
Strata Plan 38936, Waratah Apartments
Strata Plan 7247, Northridge
Strata Plan 63094, Windsor On Kent
Strata Plan 65564, Fleetview
Strata Plan 49259, One Darling Harbour

SCA (NSW) would like to thank all those who entered the awards this year. Every year we see an amazing pool of very talented people doing incredible things in the strata sector in NSW.

Good luck to all the finalists. See you all at the Awards Gala on 26 July at The Star which will be hosted by Jessica Rowe. It promises to be a fun and entertaining evening – register now.

 

 

Being water wise

Winter is the perfect time to start thinking and acting on saving water. Why? Because before the hot Summer comes back we can already have mastered some good habits.

NSW is suffering through drought and our dams are at levels lower than the rest of the country. Keepit Dam north west of Tamworth ran dry at the end of 2018 and other dams in NSW country areas are at around 3 percent.

In Sydney our metropolitan dams are also low. Warragamba Dam is at around 55 percent and Woronora Dam is at less than 45 percent capacity.

With Sydney and surrounding areas increasing in population growth we need to make sure there is enough water for everyone, and this means reviewing how we use this very valuable resource.

There are lots of water saving tips. Some might already be in place in our homes so here are some tips that may not have been thought of but can be implemented right now and for low cost:

  • its Winter so reuse your hot water bottle water on plants or the lawn
  • cook food in as little water as possible, which helps retain nutrients, by popping on a lid to create steam
  • wash fruit and vegetables in a bowl rather than under a running tap and then reuse that water on the garden
  • keep your shower to four minutes
  • Wait until your dishwasher or washing machine is fully loaded before you turn it on
  • Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth or shave.

Make sure you maintain all your water outlets – fix dripping taps or running toilets, install a water saving showerhead and only water gardens or balcony plants in the cooler parts of the day to prevent evaporation.

Sydney Water has water saving tips on its website www.sydneywater.com.au

The NSW Government has introduced some water restrictions for Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra, and fines for breaches may apply. The restrictions are:

  • watering is allowed before 10 am and after 4 pm on any day – to avoid the heat of the day
  • all hoses must have a trigger nozzle
  • no hosing of hard surfaces, such as paths and driveways, but washing vehicles is allowed
  • fire hoses may only be used for fire-fighting activities.

Details of these restrictions in other areas of NSW are available at www.environment.nsw.gov.au/questions/information-on-water-restrictions