Strata Hub

Stephen Brell and Emily Doherty, SCA (NSW) President and Vice President, host this webinar and are joined by special guests Matt Press, Director, Office of the Building Commissioner and Lachlan Mallock, Acting Director, Real Estate and Housing Policy.

First responder retires!

VIC REYNOLDS IS RETIRING A HAPPY MAN!

Vic Reynolds has been involved in the plumbing, pipeline and building industry for close to 50 years, and, as client liaison manager at Plumber & Electrician To The Rescue, many of you will know him through his role at the SCA (NSW) on the Strata Services committee.

Vic said he is content and happy knowing he is leaving the Strata industry with a positive future, “You’ve no idea how happy I am to be retiring when finally, consumers of NSW’s residential construction will be able to trust that their apartment complex has been built properly.”

“For many years at Plumber & Electrician To The Rescue we have been ‘first responders’, called to investigate plumbing and electrical issues that were sadly traced back to poor building construction – water leaks, waterproofing, ground subsidence, the list goes on. Now, with the help of SCA lobbying, the NSW Government reform ‘Construct NSW’ headed by the NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler, is the most significant improvement to the industry in my lifetime. I can’t impress enough how long overdue this major goal of ‘Trustworthy buildings’ is.”

Vic said he has particularly enjoyed assisting with the much-needed support Plumber & Electrician To The Rescue continually provides to the Barnardos Auburn Children’s Family Centre.

His friendliness, personable approach and willingness to share industry knowledge will be sorely missed around the Strata hallways of Sydney.  Vic said he wants to thank all those who he has dealt with over many years in the strata industry, and particularly the team at Plumber & Electrician To The Rescue. 

The vulnerable areas of the common property and how a Security System can help manage them

Strata Industry Expert Advice brought to you by Jeff Shawcross, Director, QUATRIX Security & Intercoms

Strata living makes an appealing option for many Australians helping them to feel safe. Being in close proximity to your neighbours can be a comforting feeling for many. But it’s not without its challenges, because the number of people coming and going from the common property of a strata building or complex can create some vulnerabilities.

For 15 years, the team at Quatrix has been a leader in installing security systems in common areas of strata buildings. So we’ve picked up a few ideas over the years on what makes a strata property safe and secure.

Last month we shared with you the most common security issues in strata buildings (and how to avoid them). Now this month we’re diving deeper into the vulnerable areas of common property and how a security system can help manage the risks.

The most important areas to cover include:

Entry Foyers               Fire Doors       Garage Doors              Garbage Rooms         Mailboxes

No matter the location, size of the complex, or resident type of your strata building the vulnerable areas remain the same. Let’s take a look at how you can manage your security risks in each of these vulnerable areas.

Entry Foyers

These are such high traffic areas, particularly in our current climate with more home deliveries than ever before. An obvious risk here is unauthorised access being granted to the building. But there are also other things to consider such as damage occurring to common areas, doors and lifts. As well as the risk of slips and falls by residents.

The best ways to protect this area is by using a combination of leading technology including:

  • CCTV cameras
  • Access Control on the front door and in the lift
  • Intercom with WiFi APP to allow easy access for home deliveries

Fire Doors

Quite clearly these are an essential part of all strata buildings. But they’re often less commonly used and more secluded, low traffic areas. With some residents opting to use this space by wedging the doors open. A Building Manager or Committee member is likely checking these doors regularly, but if it does become a common occurrence then a security solution might be worth considering.

You can protect this area by:

  • A DOTL siren is an effective and cheap option to install. This is a siren that sounds when the door is opened for too long. It can be programmed to turn off again after 30 seconds.

Garage Doors

This is one of the main security issues with a strata building. As a gate needs to stay open long enough for a car to enter, but it does open up the opportunity for thieves to sneak in behind at the same time. One thing we have learnt over the years of installing security systems is that no thief likes to be caught.

Another common problem we see is impatient residents causing damage to the shared door or gate.

Here are some ways you can help deter these behaviours:

  • CCTV cameras and adequate signage is needed. A visible camera and good lighting make a great deterrent.
  • Motion sensor garage lights and external entry lights also help.
  • Provide clear signage stating that costs for damage and a typical repair cost of $1,500 will be charged to the resident.

Garbage and rubbish dumping

Strata managers and owners know about this problem all too well. It’s certainly the number one problem we hear about each week. It’s not a good experience for residents and is equally as frustrating for the Owners Corporation.

Incorrect use of garbage bins is a common problem but one that is easier to take care of compared to the illegal dumping of rubbish on common property.

The best ways to manage these issues is with

  • A CCTV camera located inside and outside the garbage room
  • Adequate signage and motion sensor lights can act as a deterrent
  • If the problem persists, installing a security card reader can ensure you know which residents are using the space. It’s a measure you don’t want to have to take but when implemented and communicated well, it can be a helpful measure.

Mailbox Theft

This is a common and real concern for strata buildings. Relocating your mailbox to a more secure or easier to manage location is always the best move.

If you can’t move your mailboxes inside the building, then the following can help:

  • Good lighting and CCTV cameras installed at the right angle
  • Changing the locks to a more secure type then the generic default mailbox key

We hope you found these tips useful in giving you some ideas on how you can better manage risk in the more vulnerable areas of your common property.

Coming up over the next few months we’ll be sharing some further security expert advice covering:

  • Common points of failure in strata security
  • The new generation of technology in strata security
  • What to ask for when planning a security system upgrade

So make sure you check out the next edition of the Strata Owners Newsletter. If you’d like to get access to all this info immediately then download today a copy of this article.

Project Remediate – Final Call

Attention all SCA (NSW) members: Registrations of interest are still open for Project Remediate, which close on 30 September 2021!

Project Remediate is a voluntary three-year program for owners’ corporations in New South Wales to remove high-risk combustible cladding on Class 2 residential apartment buildings.

Despite the known costs and complexities of removing flammable cladding, only one-quarter of the estimated 225 buildings known to the NSW Cladding Taskforce have registered.

Why “Project Remediate”?

Project Remediate was aptly named to describe the two ways in which it assists eligible owners, owners’ corporations, and the strata managers who support them in managing their scheme.

  • “Remediate” –those requiring remediation works can access 10-year interest free loans, with the interest paid for by the NSW Government.
  • “Project” – a project assurance service is also set up and coordinated by the Office of the NSW Building Commissioner to oversee the works.

A Managing Contractor is appointed by the Office of the NSW Building Commissioner, at no cost to the owners’ corporation, to project manage the cladding removal and rectification works.

They are responsible for ensuring the remediation solution is fit for purpose, of a high standard, and provided at a fair price. Importantly, the building can be insured without any cladding-related exclusions or premium increases.

Benefits of Project Remediate

The main benefits of Project Remediate for owners, owners’ corporations, and strata managers include:

  • It offers you certainty on the cost of the remediation work through lump-sum pricing, with every effort made to reduce unexpected costs and delays.
  • All services are completed by qualified and reputable industry experts who undertake a thorough investigation and assessment to identify any issues up-front.
  • Only safe cladding products and systems, endorsed by the Cladding Product Safety Panel, will be used to ensure your building qualifies for full insurance.

To learn more about Project Remediate, explore the resources below:

  • This video explains what Project Remediate is and how it supports strata schemes in New South Wales.
  • This video is a message from the Hon. Kevin Anderson MP, Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, who launched Project Remediate.
  • Project Remediate is offering a free two-hour course until 30 September 2021 for strata managers and committee members of self-managed strata schemes to learn more about Project Remediate, which can be accessed here.
  • The Apartment Owners Guide, accessible here, helps strata schemes understand the Project Remediate program.
  • Owners’ corporations can also access strata resolution and motion examples here.
  • The NSW Government provides answers to important frequently asked questions, which can be accessed here.

To contact Project Remediate directly, please email: projectremediate@customerservice.nsw.gov.au

What the PSS means for Consumers and Strata Managers

What the PSS Means for Consumers and Strata Managers

The introduction of the Professional Standards Scheme earlier this year by Strata Community Association (NSW) has advanced consumer protections in New South Wales to the highest level nationally.

An historic achievement for the protection and enforcement of consumer rights, the significance of the inaugural PSS in Australia’s $1trillion strata sector will be shown in its ongoing and widespread adoption by all SCA (NSW) members.

Under the SCA (NSW) PSS, our Strata Manager members:

  • Are bound by a Code of Ethics that compels them to act honestly, ethically and with a duty of care to their clients
  • Must comply with a formal complaints and discipline regime for consumer or industry participant complaints
  • Must comply with a continuous education regime that is double the requirements for a licence/certificate under NSW Fair Trading
  • Must meet certain practice standards in their day-to-day operations
  • Will be regularly audited to ensure compliance with the Code of Ethics

These requirements are aimed at not only improving how Strata Managers run their business, but also deliver day-to-day improvements in outcomes for owners and owners’ corporations.

Additionally, outcomes are reported to Professionals Standards Australia annually, with an obligation to document increases in professionalism across the industry moving forward.

Meet Our PSS Team Members!

To ensure our PSS achieves its dual objectives of improving the professional standards of our valued members and providing the highest level of consumer protections, we have recently expanded our PSS team.

As stated by SCA (NSW) President: “Our PSS has been created for your benefit and that of the estimated two million New South Wales residents who own or live in strata title properties.

“Our new staff members have been appointed to develop ideas further, solve problems, work with our Strata Manager members, and advise them on how the PSS can help improve professionalism to serve you better.”

The staff members and their positions are:

Michael McCann – Professional Standards Compliance Manager

Scott Martin – Relationship Manager

The Road Ahead

SCA (NSW) members and consumers in New South Wales can look forward to many positive changes that will stem from our PSS over the next five years.

We are committed to enhancing the professionalism of our members for the benefit of consumers in our state. Through our PSS, we are working towards strengthening consumer protections and restoring consumer confidence.

Should you have any questions regarding our PSS, please contact SCA (NSW) via phone (02 9492 8200) or email (pss.nsw@strata.community).

Strata Stakeholders: Key Differences Between a Strata Manager, Property Manager and Building Manager

Within strata communities, there are several stakeholders who are involved in managing common property, private property, and the building itself.

Each stakeholder plays an important part in overseeing the complexities of a strata scheme, and the differences between their roles are quite significant.

In this article, we explain the role of the strata manager, the property manager, and the building manager.

Strata Manager

A strata manager manages an Owners Corporation on behalf of all lot owners and operates under the direction of the Strata Committee.

Their responsibilities are divided between administration, finance, and community management. Their core duties include:

  • Administration, including meeting preparation, managing correspondence, and general secretarial duties
  • Accounting and financial reporting, including levy collection and arranging payment of invoices
  • Legal compliance, including insurance, and issues of notices, orders, and certificates
  • Building maintenance, specifically common property, such as gardens, pool and barbeque areas, lifts, and parking areas
  • Enforcement of rules and bylaws within the strata scheme

Property Manager

In contrast to a strata manager, who represents the interests of all lot owners and manages common property matters, a property manager works on behalf of an individual lot owner and focuses on private property issues.

As their job title implies, they are responsible for the management and maintenance of a single lot – be it an apartment, unit, townhouse, or other strata title property – within a strata scheme.

They act as the middleman between the property’s landlord and the tenant. Their primarily responsibilities include:

  • Finding a suitable tenant
  • Collection of rent
  • Property maintenance
  • Property inspections

Building Manager

A building manager, also called a facilities manager or caretaker, is unique from the others previously mentioned as they are usually stationed on-site.

This proximity enables them to easily manage the daily cleaning and maintenance required to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the building and facilities.

They are responsible for reporting any needs for building repairs to the strata manager and they are the point of contact for any contractors engaged to perform work on common property.

In addition to managing and maintaining common property and common property assets, building managers also:

  • Provide security by managing property access for tradespeople
  • Act as a concierge for short stay accommodation and deliveries

The building manager typically operates during business hours Monday-Friday, with reduced hours over the weekend.

 

PEXA and Registration of By-Laws in New South Wales

PEXA and Registration of By-Laws in New South Wales

New changes to the land title system in New South Wales are coming, effective 11 October 2021, that will transition cumbersome paper-based processes to electronic lodgement.

NSW Land Registry Services has announced amendments will be made to the Real Property Amendment (Certificates of Title) Act 2021, which will lead to three significant changes for strata managers.

These changes include:

  1. The cancellation of Certificates of Title (CTs),
  2. The transition to one hundred percent electronic lodgement for all land dealings, also referred to as ‘100% eConveyancing’, and
  3. Strata managers will no longer be able to register by-laws themselves. All by-laws will be required to be registered through PEXA.

Registration of By-Laws

Since the introduction of Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) on 22 March 2021, the strata sector has progressively moved away from paper.

Now, under these new laws, strata managers must submit the Consolidation/Change of By-Laws form electronically through PEXA.

An electronic platform, PEXA streamlines and shortens processes relating to property through NSW Land Registry Services by using electronic forms. Original documents are no longer required to be lodged over the counter.

To protect against identify theft and fraudulent activity and ensure the process remains secure, strata managers submitting pages to be registered must complete two additional steps through PEXA. These are:

  • Lodge a signed Client Authorisation Form (CAF), and
  • Undertake the Verification of Identity (VOI) process.

The VOI process can be completely in person or remotely using a mobile device. It is an identification process that lasts for two years.

Certificates of Title

From 11 October 2021, all existing Certificates of Title (CTs) will be cancelled and no future CTs will be issued.

The same will also apply to authorised deposit-taking institutions, including banks, in relation to Control of the Right to Deal (CoRD), which is the electronic equivalent of CTs.

100% eConveyancing

From 11 October 2021, paper lodgement of land dealings will no longer be permitted under the new laws.

Under the NSW Conveyancing Rules, the Registrar General has mandated that all electronic dealings listed in the Schedule of eDealings through the NSW Land Registry Services (LRS) must be lodged electronically.

Additionally, electronic lodgement of land dealings to NSW LRS can only be completed by a subscriber, such as a lawyer, licensed conveyancer, or bank, to a prescribed Electronic Lodgement Network.

For more information on the changes relating to Certificates of Title and 100% eConveyancing, please click here

New Pet By-Laws in New South Wales

Animal lovers are rejoicing after a recent decision passed down by the NSW Government has put an end to blanket bans on pets in strata title properties in New South Wales.

Strata Community Association (NSW), which was consulted by the NSW Government on the issue, has commended the NSW Government on the new regulations.

In a recent media statement, SCA (NSW) President, Chris Duggan, said: “Research shows that Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. The important role that pets play in terms of companionship has only increased during the current pandemic.

“Many strata communities in Sydney and wider New South Wales have been under lockdown conditions, some for extensive periods, and pets provide a remedy to the social isolation that some may experience.”

Commencing on 25 August 2021, two amendments to the Strata Schemes Management Act (2015) came into effect which now govern the keeping of animals in strata schemes.

Section 137B stipulates that keeping an animal in a strata scheme cannot be prohibited unless the animal “unreasonably interferes with another occupant’s enjoyment of their lot or the common property”.

Additionally, the Strata Schemes Amendment (Pets) Regulation outlines the specific circumstances which may be considered “unreasonable interference” to assist owners, occupiers, and owners’ corporations to navigate the new laws.

Under the Strata Schemes Amendment (Pets) Regulation, an animal may be deemed to cause “unreasonable interference” if:

  • The animal makes a noise which interferes with the peace, comfort, and convenience of another occupant.
  • The animal repeatedly runs at or chases another occupant, visitor, or another animal.
  • The animal repeatedly causes damage to the common property or to another lot.
  • The animal endangers the health of another occupant through infection or infestation.
  • The animal causes a persistent offensive odour that penetrates the common property or another lot.
  • For dogs and cates, the owner of the animal fails to comply with orders under the Companion Animals Act 1998.

The Strata Schemes Amendment (Pets) Regulation also incorporates the provisions of the Companion Animals Act 1998 regarding a “restricted” dog and a “menacing or dangerous” dog. These dogs may be banned from strata schemes by decision of the owners’ corporation.

By-Laws: What You Need to Know

It is important that owners, occupiers, and owners’ corporations understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to the enforcement of by-laws on the keeping of animals in strata schemes.

The recent changes to the Strata Schemes Management Act (2015) mean that any by-law which sets a blanket ban on pets in a strata scheme in New South Wales is now invalid.

Such by-laws may be challenged by seeking an amendment with the owners’ corporation in your strata scheme.

The decision to amend the by-law should be considered at the next general meeting of the owners’ corporation or by calling an extraordinary general meeting to discuss the matter.

In the event a blanket ban remains in place, you can lodge an application for mediation with NSW Fair Trading. If the matter remains unresolved, you can proceed to lodging an application at NCAT.

For more information on by-laws, visit NSW Fair Trading here.
 

R U OK? Day – 2021

It’s been a year like never before in the Australian strata sector. Due to lockdowns creating social isolation and other social pressures, national R U OK? Day is more important than ever before.

Today is national R U OK? Day, a powerful day of action to connect with your family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues. This year, the message is “Are they really okay?”.

In these challenging and uncertain times, which has seen extended lockdowns in Sydney and other areas of New South Wales, it’s more important than ever to ask the question: “Are you really okay?”.

The charity R U OK?, which was founded on the belief that a conversation can change a life, has developed tons of helpful resources to empower you to have meaningful conversations with others this R U OK? Day.

They advocate four simple steps to have a connected conversation:

  1. Ask “R U OK?”
  2. Listen
  3. Encourage action
  4. Check in

For those who wish to get involved in this year’s R U OK? Day, there are a range of ways that you can offer your support to your loved ones and share the organisation’s message.

Have a conversation

Finding a way to connect with others may require you to get a little creative under lockdown conditions! If you can’t connect face to face, use a video call, phone call, text message, email, or e-card to reach out.

Acts of kindness

A small act of kindness can truly brighten someone’s day. There are so many ways to show others that you’re thinking of them – from sending flowers to helping a neighbour, or simply wishing someone a good day.    

Watch the webinar

R U OK? is hosting a free webinar today at 12:30pm AEST to teach you how to start a conversation. Speakers include Sam Mac, Sunrise weatherman and R U OK? Ambassador, and Katherine Newton, CEO of R U OK?. To find out more and to register, click here.

Host an event

A face to face or online event is a fun way to bring people together and celebrate R U OK? Day. Events can involve your nearest and dearest, your neighbours, your colleagues, a sporting, or community group. To register your event and spread some positivity, click here.

Wear yellow

And perhaps one of the easiest ways you can show your support this R U OK? Day is to wear yellow. Bright and bold fluorescent or subdued hues – whatever takes your fancy! You can also support the organisation directly by buying some R U OK? official merchandise here

For more resources on having a conversation that can change a life, visit: www.ruok.org.au. We encourage you to share this article with those you care about to share this year’s important message: “Are you really okay?”.

 

Changes to laws on the keeping of animals in strata

New laws governing the keeping of animals in a strata scheme started on 25 August 2021. Under the new laws, keeping an animal in a strata scheme can’t be prohibited unless the animal unreasonably interferes with another resident’s use and enjoyment of their lot or the common property. 

The laws were informed by public feedback received from the pets in strata survey. The survey was conducted earlier this year as part of the strata schemes statutory review. 

The NSW Government has developed the Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Pets) Regulation 2021, which sets out circumstances in which keeping an animal causes an unreasonable interference. 

We have also produced a report that sets out the public feedback received from the pets in strata survey and how the list of circumstances was developed.

Under the new laws, an owners corporation:

  • can only refuse to allow an animal into the scheme if that animal unreasonably interferes with another resident’s use and enjoyment of their lot or the common property
  • may still require residents to apply for approval from the owners corporation to keep an animal on their lot
  • may still set reasonable conditions in their by-laws to manage the keeping of animals in the scheme. Strata by-laws that set a blanket ban on the keeping of any animals within a scheme are not valid.

The laws also include a list of circumstances where an animal causes an unreasonable interference to residents in a scheme. The owners corporation can take steps to prohibit an animal that is being kept in the scheme if the animal causes a nuisance, hazard or unreasonable interference.

Visit the Fair Trading website (https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/strata-and-community-living/strata-schemes/by-laws-in-your-strata-scheme) for more information.

The new laws are available on the NSW Legislation website: 

  • section 137B of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015
  • clause 36A of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016

FAQs

What do the pets reforms change?
Under the new laws, a strata scheme’s owners corporation can only refuse to allow an animal into the scheme if that animal unreasonably interferes with another resident’s use and enjoyment of their lot or the common property.  An owners corporation can also take steps to prohibit an animal that is being kept in the scheme if the animal causes a nuisance, hazard or unreasonable interference.

What if my scheme has a no animals by-law?
A by-law that sets a blanket ban on animals is considered invalid. 

If you live in a scheme with this type of by-law, you should raise the issue with the owners corporation. You can add ‘updating the by-law’ to the agenda for the next general meeting of your owners corporation, or you can call for an extraordinary general meeting to be held. 

If the owners corporation has reconsidered their by-law and the result is inconsistent with the new laws, you can lodge an application for mediation with NSW Fair Trading. If unresolved, you can lodge an application at NCAT. 

Are owners corporations still able to require approval for pets coming into the scheme?
Yes.  An owners corporation can choose to set up an approval process for all animals that enter the scheme. However, they can only refuse to allow an animal if the animal causes an unreasonable interference to others living in the scheme. To help evaluate the animal, and for identification purposes, owners corporations can ask for information about the animal, such as: 

  • the animal’s age, breed, name or photo 
  • evidence of vaccination or microchipping (for animals like cats and dogs) 

COVID-19: What the New Public Health Orders mean for Strata

Over the weekend, the NSW Premier made the tough decision to introduce even further restrictions in the face of persistent community transmission of COVID-19.

CHANGES TO COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS

New changes to restrictions for Greater Sydney Area include the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour have been announced

All other restrictions currently in place will remain in place.

Some clarity, particularly surrounding the servicing of common property in Strata Schemes was provided by the gazetted public health orders that were issued by the Government on Saturday evening.

Please note the following advice is based on our understanding as of today and further clarification or new rules may be introduced at any time. We shall continue to closely communicate with NSW Health, NSW Fair Trading as well the Minister’s office and update our members when information comes to hand.  

CLEANING & WASTE MANAGEMENT

Clause 22A of the orders states the following;

Clause 22A Directions of Minister about visitors to places of residence
Insert after clause 22A(4)-

(4A) Despite subclause (4), a person is not authorised to visit a place of residence in Greater Sydney to engage in work that is cleaning or carrying out repairs, maintenance, alterations, additional or other trades at the place of residence.
(4B) Subclause (4A) does not apply if the work is urgently required –
a. to ensure the health, safety or security of the place of residence or the members of the household, or
b. because of an emergency

Example: Commercial cleaning and waste management is permitted within common property of strata buildings. Cleaning within individual lots is not permitted.

GARDENING 
Due to no exemption to the contrary, landscaping and gardening works are to be deferred unless for an emergency i.e potential damage to property or safety risk.

FIRE SERVICES
We have sought clarity from the Fire Protection Association of Australia (FPA) and according to their latest member advice, fire protection maintenance is urgent to maintain the health, safety  and security of premises for residents and for attending emergency services, with the exception of non-urgent work within residential units.

An excerpt of their advice relating to permissible works in below, and full details can be found in the following link http://www.fpaa.com.au/news/news/routine-service-work.aspx

  1. the following work must continue on fire safety systems and features during the lockdown period:
    • routine service work;
    • annual assessment; and
    • rectification maintenance; 
  2. all work must be carried out using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety procedures; 
  3. base building fire systems should be assessed, but common sense and health considerations should be taken with respect to servicing single occupancy units (SOUs); and 
  4. where access cannot be obtained practitioners should work out alternative arrangements in the short term to satisfy themselves that systems are performing, and arrange to reinspect at a later time

CONSTRUCTION WORK, REPAIRS, AND NON-ESSENTIAL MAINTENANCE
Construction works, repairs and non-essential maintenance to be deferred. Emergency works and essential reactive repairs are permitted, however a pause on preventative and non-essential maintenance and remedial/upgrade construction work is in place.

Example: Lift outage, garage door malfunctions, or hot water / pump repairs are permitted. 

Special Health Orders for the Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield and Liverpool (LGA’s)

Persons living in the Liverpool, Fairfield or Canterbury Bankstown LGA’s cannot leave their residence for work unless they are an authorised worker

For a full copy of the most recent health orders and a list of the workers that have been permitted to work in the Bankstown, Canterbury and Liverpool LGA’s see the links below.

•    Link to Health Order
•    Link to Exempted Workers

NSW CONSUMERS THE BIG WINNERS UNDER PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS SCHEME

The New South Wales Strata Sector is now leading the way for the Property Industry with the highest form of consumer protection regulation approved by the Government to commence 1 July 2021.

Over the past years, Strata Community Association (NSW) and the NSW Government have been working in partnership to strengthen consumer protection and restore consumer confidence.

The NSW Government under the Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson, has approved a Professional Standards Scheme. This formal recognition by the NSW Government is first of its kind for the property services sector in Australia and an exciting time as members of the SCA (NSW).

The scheme has been approved for an initial period of 5 years commencing from 1st July 2021. This approval means Strata Manager members of SCA (NSW) must adhere to a Code of Ethics including professional standards and is monitored by Professional Standards Australia.
At the forefront of this scheme is a further commitment to consumers to ensure high professional standards across the strata industry in NSW. This is in line with various other initiatives across NSW, including the NSW Government plan to rebuild the construction sector and restore confidence and professionalism.
The Professional Standards Scheme will bring to our clients a range of benefits, including:

  • The SCA (NSW) will oversee and self-regulate the conduct of all members within a structured professional framework.
  • In addition to our internal complaints handling process, the Professional Standards Scheme brings a further robust and independent complaints handling process, ensuring clients can be assured of an independent review and response.
  • An increase in Continual Professional Development (CPD) requirements for Strata Managers and Licensee’s in Charge, ensuring the industry remains up to date, educated and aware of their on-going responsibilities to the consumer.

To help you understand what a Professional Standards Scheme is and how it will benefit you, SCA (NSW) has put together a list of useful frequently asked questions:

What is a Professional Standards Scheme (PSS)?
A Professional Standards Scheme (PSS) is a legal instrument that binds associations, such as SCA (NSW), to monitor, enforce and improve the professional standards of their members and protect consumers.

At its core, a PSS exists to help consumers, as well as governments and professionals, to distinguish between the genuinely professional and the growing field of people who are simply claiming to be professional.

Every PSS in Australia, of which there are 15, is overseen by the Professional Standards Councils, which is an independent statutory body that approves, monitors and enforces Professional Standards Schemes under three pillars:

  1. Protect consumers
  2. Improve professional standards
  3. Help associations

To protect consumers the Professional Standards Council expect associations within their regulated communities to ensure their members uphold these standards through education and guidance, monitoring and enforcement, and other measures. This plays an important role in protecting consumers.

Who will the SCA (NSW) PSS apply to?
The landmark SCA (NSW) Professional Standards Scheme will mandate that all SCA (NSW) members must meet enhanced Professional Standards, as well as abide by a Code of Ethics.

It will apply to strata management companies and individual strata managers who are members of SCA (NSW) and provide strata management services to consumers who own or live in strata title properties domiciled in New South Wales.

How does the SCA (NSW) PSS benefit consumers?
For the first time, consumers in New South Wales will have access to a formal complaint and disciplinary system under this ground-breaking new scheme.

Strata managers and strata management companies under the scheme will be required to uphold the professional standards through ongoing education and other measures to ensure you and other consumers feel confident in the advice and service you receive.

Under the SCA (NSW) Professional Standards Scheme, SCA (NSW) members will be bound:

  • By a Code of Ethics that compels them to act honestly, ethically and with a duty of care to their clients,
  • To comply with a formal complaints and discipline regime in the event they receive a consumer or industry participant complaint,
  • To comply with a continuous education regime that is double the current requirement of a strata manager licence or certificate under Fair Trading,
  • To meet certain practice standards in day-to-day operations, and
  • To agree to regular auditing to ensure compliance with the Code of Ethics.

SCA (NSW) is also obliged to report to Professional Standards Australia on member activity and adherence to the SCA (NSW) Professional Standards Scheme.

Together, all these requirements support and uplift consumer protections.