A strata inspection report (also known as a strata search, Owners Corporation Records Inspection or Section 108) is a report that all purchasers of a strata titled, community titled or company titled property should invest in whether this be a residential or commercial property.
The Strata Inspection Report I refer to is similar to a building report when someone buys a house. The records of the Owners Corporation must comply with the Strata Schemes Management Act. By no means do we suggest that this replaces a building inspection report. The big difference is a Strata Inspection Report will report on the building, also known as the Strata Scheme. It should provide precise details of what is happening within the building or complex.
There are a wide range of disputes which can arise in strata schemes. Most disputes arise between owners. However, there are cases where disputes arise between owners and the owners corporation over lack of maintenance and repair issues, breaches of the scheme’s by-laws such as keeping pets without approval, excessive noise, insufficient floor coverings and parking on common property, dysfunctional executive committees, repairs to ceilings, walls and floors.
When an owner or owners corporation finds itself unable to satisfactorily resolve their dispute with the other party, it may be time to consider the next step.
The first step is to attempt mediation at NSW Fair Trading. Mediation is compulsory, with the exception of applications for the appointment of a compulsory strata managing agent, prior to lodging an application with NCAT.
Residential building claims for defective works have continued to grow significantly over the last decade, resulting in an increased focus on legislative reform in the NSW construction industry, most notably in respect of the Home Building Act 1989 (HBA).
Against the background of a weak residential construction market in 2011, the NSW Government sought to respond to the most pressing concerns of home owners and industry by introducing amendments to the HBA designed to “cut red tape”. The Home Building Amendment Act 2011 (NSW) introduced a package of reforms affecting home warranty insurance and claims, enforcement of statutory warranties and proportionate liability. However, these amendments only represented an initial step in the reform of the HBA, with more wide-reaching reforms now passed following a comprehensive consultation process during 2012 and 2013.
The Home Building Amendment Bill 2014 (NSW) (the Bill) had its second reading in the NSW Parliament on 6 May 2014, with its stated intention being “to ensure home building laws reflect current practice and reduce any unnecessary red tape for industry while providing consumers with appropriate protection”. The Bill was passed unamended by the NSW Parliament on 28 May 2014 and, once proclaimed, will significantly amend the HBA. The key aspects of the reforms are noted below.
“Structural Defect” now “Major Defect”
The statutory warranties regime is the basis of the consumer protection framework in the HBA and creates legally enforceable standards for workmanship, enabling consumers to pursue remedies in the event of defective work.
The definition of “structural defect” in section 18E of the HBA has been reworked and replaced with a new concept of “major defect”.
NSW Fair Trading has issues a guide on deck and balcony safety has been issued by NSW Fair Trading. The guide provides practical information about maintenance and safety guide for timber, concrete and masonry decks and balconies. A handy maintenance checklist is also included.
The guide was produced in response to a number of recent incidents in NSW and other states involving balconies and decks that had resulted in injury or death.
Balconies, decks, balustrades and railings must be built to the Building Code of Australia and relevant Australian Standards.